Flash technology training – Mobile reporting

By Lygia Navarro, JAWS Fellow

Former Washington Post foreign correspondent and Columbia College professor Jackie Spinner shared tips on assembling mobile multimedia tool kits. While staff reporters with larger budgets can afford pricier packages (see New York Times reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell’s kit for reporting from Tahrir Square), Spinner crafted her own set of equipment from solid, less expensive pieces.

Mobile Multimedia Toolkit:

-OWLE handheld video rig (for iPhone) with microphone

-Lavalier microphone with iPhone adapter


-iRig microphone

-Digital single-lens reflex camera

-Small tripod

-iPhone 4S and tripod mount

-Two iPhone batteries


“When I was covering Arab Spring, and bumping up against Al Jazeera and NBC,” Spinner said, “it made me look more legit.”

While Spinner mostly uses her DSLR for photography, she showed images taken with her iPhone in Hebron and Morocco—in both black and white and color—which she was able to capture because her iPhone made her less conspicuous. “There are instances when I want to be mobile, and I want to be discreet,” Spinner added. “That’s when I use my iPhone.”

Fielding questions from tech-savvy reporters and other just transitioning into the multimedia landscape, Spinner also introduced her favorite smartphone apps for mobile reporting


Mobile Multimedia Apps:

-Free social media app Instagram, which one audience member lauded for being “fast, professional, easy.” (Other audience members pointed out that images users post can be used by the company for advertising or other purposes.) While Spinner doesn’t use Instagram much, she said many reporters find the social media aspect of the app to be helpful, as photos can be retweeted or followed.

-Camera app ProCamera, which allows users to control their iPhone camera with the specificity of a DSLR.

-Photo-editing app FilterStorm—“PhotoShop on the iPhone, essentially,” said Spinner.

-Black-and-white photo app Hueless, which Spinner uses often for street photography.

-Photo processing app SnapSeed, which allows users to important photos and add filtering and other effects to the original image.

-Audio recording apps SoundCloud or iRig Recorder, which can be used with an external microphone attached to a smartphone for better sound quality.

-Photography app Slow Shutter, which helps photographers control smartphone camera shutter speed, especially helpful for long-exposure shots (with a tripod, of course, Spinner stressed).

-Video app FilmMicPro, which allows for shooting video with precision focus beyond the capabilities of standard smartphone video apps.

-Video and audio-editing app Voddio (by Vericorder Technology), which enables reporters to edit their sound and footage on their phone rather than a laptop.