CNN recently held a panel discussion about mobile tech and its role in journalism—for both consumers and journalists. The panelists made some good points about how mobile smartphones like the iPhone have created a whole new breed of journalism. You can watch the videos (embedded below) if you want, but I’m going to cover some of their points here.

Most discussed was the omnipresence of camera phones and smartphones, which makes everyone a potential “citizen journalist.” As one of the panelists put it, “We used to call them innocent bystanders. Or victims.” Now, those “bystanders” can broadcast news—just look at the Iranian elections and Twitter. Or one of the panelists, who was able to broadcast a report from his iPhone even while the police herded the journalists away at the G20 conference.

However, the panel noted that while anyone can shoot video, good footage requires skill. “It’s all about the storytelling,” one panelist noted. Mobile technology is a means, not an end—for journalists, it’s another tool. Mobile reports co-exist with traditional ones.

The integrity of mobile-generated content is also a concern; technology makes manipulation easy. And sifting through masses of raw content to find quality is still difficult, they noted.

On the consumer side, mobile tech was praised for encouraging people to access the news every day. Think news apps for iPhone.

So what does this mean for iOS?

Each and every iPhone owner is a potential “citizen journalist:” take a video, upload it to YouTube, and boom. Throw in iMovie, and you can even make a decent “report.”

One thing that I found interesting was a criticism of current iPad news apps. iPhone news apps are OK, but iPad news apps were criticized for a lack of innovation. One panelist asked about showing local news based on the iPad’s Location Services, or showing content relative to the specific user. We’re missing that now—most iPad apps simply copy the print versions.

At any rate, it was interesting to hear industry heads and journalists themselves talk about how mobile has changed their industry. More changes are in order, certainly—and smartphones, like the iPhone, are the primary impetus.



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