A Reuters (NSDQ: RTRSY) reporter will this week embark on an experiment to report the arrival of Tesco in the US with little more than a Nokia (NYSE: NOK) N95 mobile phone. The news agency has been using the “mobile journalism toolkit”, developed through close partnership with Nokia, for a couple of months now (see October’s post), but mostly to have TV reporters shoot video for the web – now a text reporter will file to the wire from LA and Las Vegas using the handset and a Bluetooth keyboard.
European media and tech correspondent Matt Cowan – who interviewed Rafat and I at our paidContent:UK launch in September – already has some example reportage up on Reuters’ dedicated website. Last night, Reuters invited me and a handful of other online news business folk to a board room at its Canary Wharf HQ to hear more about the project from European mobile manager Ilicco Elia, community editor Mark Jones, Cowan himself and, via conference call from Times Square, chief scientist Nic Fulton.
Highlights after the jump…
– Development: Reuters staff visited Nokia’s R&D centre in Tampere, Finland, over the summer. Later, Nokia visited London to interview journalists on their requirements for a mobile reporting setup. The result was a Flashlite mobile client that connects to an installation of the WordPress software that powers Reuters weblogs. Mobile journalists (they used to call them MoJos but are steering clear of that term now) can send video to the system that is checked by an editor before it goes live.
– Future: Fulton said: “We believe that mobile tech is evolving extremely fast to the extent that we can see a time – probably not that many years out – less than five, maybe as short as three – when mobile phones could have HD capacity, extremely capable keyboards.”
– Complementary: But no-one is pretending all reporting from Reuters – or other agencies – will go this way. Indeed, we assorted text and TV reporters, bloggers and cameraman around the table could only agree on the term “complementary”. Said Cowan: “I don’t think this is going to change things overnight and this is the way we’ll all be reporting – but it will be an incredibly important tool that plays in to how we report stories. It injects a kind of dynamism that we’ve seen this year mostly from social networks.”
– Examples: Cowan pointed to our recent interview with Bebo international president Joanna Shields – shot using not a phone but a digital camera – and Rafat recently interviewed Guardian Media Group digital strategy director Simon Waldman in Monaco using an N95, too.