Thursday, October 25, 2012

What is a mobile journalist?

A mobile journalist is an active member of the community, both virtually and in person. 
- She is not something separate, whether higher than or lower than, the people she writes about and for. 
- She relies heavily on the community for story ideas, perspective and inspiration. In fact, it is impossible to do her job without feeding off her deep community roots.
- To accomplish this successfully, she actively seeks out and engages diverse people; she is hungry to hear the quiet voices. 
- While she is dependent on the public, she also consciously and carefully keeps herself an arm's length away, in order to prevent tunnel vision. She is wildly curious, and with that comes the natural tendency to question everything.
- She is motivated by the desire to serve, engage and inform the community, not her ego or any personal agenda. This naturally leads to an open mind, which minimizes limiting biases.

A mobile journalist thinks digital first. 
- She scoops her own stories in print by running them online first.
- She teases her stories and builds excitement by posting about them while she reports them.
- She sees every story from all angles: words, photo, video, audio, links, boxes, graphics, quotes, social media, maps, apps -- lock, stock and barrel. She is obsessively thorough, understanding that there are a myriad of ways to tell a story and reach out to the community. This naturally leads her to be flexible, letting the story tell itself instead of imposing a structure onto a story that may not be appropriate.
- She is always learning, always experimenting, always playing, always trying new approaches. She sees every story as a new opportunity to stretch her knowledge and try something new. In that, she is never bored and always thrilled!
- She aims to always be at the forefront of technology, but she knows that's an impossible task, so she doesn't let it intimidate her.

A mobile journalist is a one-person news machine that can report on any subject, anywhere, efficiently, creatively and with the highest quality.
- She cherishes all of the traditional tenants of journalism, and she applies them to everything she does.
- She does not need a newsroom.
- She needs minimal support staff; she creates her own support. She aims to be her own team.
- She is always on. There are no office hours. This is who she is.

Of course, this definition is always evolving.
What do you think a mobile journalist is? UPDATE: I got this great feedback from another journalist recently and I wanted to include it here. I do agree with what she says -- but of course, this definition is always evolving:
Sometimes I struggle with being "always on." Sometimes I turn myself "off" because I need me time and don't want to think about where the next story is. I think it's ok to not be always "on" for the community. Couldn't we burn ourselves out? What do you think?

Also, I wonder at a few of the statements in the third section: "She does not need a newsroom. She needs minimal support staff; she creates her own support. She aims to be her own team."

What about collaboration and feeding off other people's ideas and brainstorming? Should the modern journalist really be an island or isn't support occasionally necessary to new ideas and ways of thinking? If, by support staff, you mean photographers, then yes, new tools might limit their necessity. But what about growth and learning from others? The newsroom could be the Internet newsroom. All the people we go to for advice on this or that new tool. I've definitely learned from you and several others online. I also bounce ideas off  So you are my "newsroom." I'm not sure that the modern journalist should be completely her own team... 

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