Mobile Journalism: One more piece to the life puzzle

Until this summer, I thought I was following Robert Frost’s advice and traveling down the road less traveled by.  Turns out, after some serious reflection, I realized I had been following the well-worn path of a successful academic career. Tried and proven true by others before me, I was taking steps in the right direction without knowing where I truly wanted those steps to take me. I would tell my friends and family I wanted to work for National Geographic or The New York Times— a lot of journalist’s dream jobs. But there wasn’t any real conviction in my heart when I’d answer those questions about the future.

Now though, I’m walking down the well-worn path in reverse. I’m taking risks: from taking a mobile journalism class to making a dream that comes from my heart.

I want to create a journalism start-up in rural Colombia. (I also want to build a school in rural Colombia, but those two are longer programs* down the road.) Before I leave Mizzou, I want to create a network for students who want to start something that matters abroad or at home, thereby connecting people, resources and ideas to help move the world, if only in parts, forward.

Isn’t that a change from working at the Times?

It’s a change that keeps evolving when I least expect it to. Sitting in my multimedia lab Friday, I realized mobile journalism was one more vital piece of my Grand Life Scheme 10 million piece puzzle set.

Mobile journalism, from my few days of exposure to it, is  a mix of cost-efficiency, innovation, accessibility, versatility and production efficiency. This is the mixture I need in my journalistic endeavors. If I start harnessing these qualities now alongside good reporting, investigation and accuracy–it’s risky taking something to its full potential–then I’ll have one foot on the trek I’m making back to South America.

When looking at the iPad mini, iOgrapher, lenses and microphone, I can’t help but marvel. I can produce some of the same content and close to the same quality photo/video as a traditional media kit for a fraction of the price. This is the kind of cost-efficiency a journalism startup would need. And while there are times when capability is sacrificed for mobility, having the ability to shoot, edit and publish from one device by oneself is a major advantage when starting with a small staff and few resources. (I don’t expect to have loads of money or capital to start this journalistic venture in rural Colombia. I’m a journalist, for crying out loud.)

Innovation, versatility and accessibility combine to create a more compelling narrative. There are a number of apps available to enhance a multi dimensional storytelling.  This connects audiences directly to places or situations they may never encounter in their daily lives which  is one of multimedia journalism’s most powerful tools.  It’s one thing to read about the majesty of the Andes and quite another to interact with a panorama shot of those mountains.

Maybe I’m getting  ahead of myself.

My dad has always wondered why people dream small. I think I know why: It’s safe, easy or comfortable.

Our multimedia professor has made it clear to us this class will be none of the above.  His advice  to keep on keepin’ on with sights set on accomplishing and learning to do the impossible with new tools and gadgets extends past the classroom experience and into life.

There isn’t a moment to lose since the future is partially shaped in the present–this is the attitude I’m bringing to every opportunity that crosses my path, starting with my mobile journalism class.


*Tim Parshall, MU fellowships adviser, defines long-term ideas as programs rather than projects, since they’re meant to have a continuous impact/function. Projects are a one-time deal. I like that perspective, so I used his diction.


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