Mobile phones 'to revolutionise news coverage'

Feb 03, 2011 By Professor Stephen Quinn

Mobile phones are set to dramatically shake up the global news industry, as cellphones increasingly become a basic consumer essential and users upgrade their handsets with greater frequency.

Citizen journalists are expected to increasingly use their mobile phones to compete with the world’s biggest broadcasters, first for footage at news scenes and then in the race to get coverage transmitted to a wide audience, according to a media expert at The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China.

Mobile phone cameras and improved broadband access are among the main weapons citizen journalists will have to take on professional journalists, though even the professionals are set to increasingly rely on mobile telephony.

Growth in the use of mobile phones in creating news content is likely to be led by Asia, which has about half of the world’s cellphones compared to the estimated eight percent in circulation in the US.

This is the picture painted by respected international media analyst Professor Stephen Quinn of The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China (UNNC) in his latest book, MoJo – Mobile Journalism in the Asian Region.

An estimated two out of every three adults around the world owned a mobile phone in 2009, or a staggering 4.2bn adults. “About half of those phones contain a camera, which potentially means a pool of more than two billion reporters,” said Professor Quinn.

This 2011, second edition publication is the latest in a string of specialist books on the media published by Professor Quinn, who heads UNNC’s International Communications division.

The University, where all programs are taught in English to the same high standards at The University of Nottingham in the UK, has a growing focus on journalism and media studies. It is hosting an important conference on “China’s media in a global context” at its campus in Ningbo, Zhejiang – about three hours by road from Shanghai – in May.

The event has attracted some of the world’s top media scholars, including from mainland China, to deliver their latest research and to explore and debate the latest challenges in the sector.

The University’s International Communications division also offers a Contemporary Chinese Studies masters programme that enables postgraduate students from any discipline to develop a deep understanding of modern China’s history, culture, economy, politics and society. Mandarin language modules are available for all levels from beginner to advanced.

In his new, groundbreaking book, Professor Quinn describes the spread of the as a newsgathering tool in the Asian region, and offers case studies and examples from around the world. Catering for journalism students and aspirant citizen journalists alike, the book emphasises practical issues.

Readers are given useful tips on how to become successful mojos, with valuable pointers on which internet tools have proven to be the most effective and popular in the world’s major newsrooms. Professor Quinn, who worked as a print and broadcast journalist for two decades before entering the world of academia, shares his techniques for the best use of a cellphone camera to ensure quality images.

The author covers essential ethical and legal questions, like how to deal with mobile images of people who have been filmed or photographed without their knowledge or permission.

Budding media entrepreneurs will find useful the ideas on possible revenue models to pay for mobile forms of journalism.

Professor Quinn’s other recent publications include: Asia’s Media Innovators (Vol 2), co-authored with Professor Kim Kieransof the University of King’s College in Canada; and chapters in Social Media and Politics: Online social networking and political communication in Asia, edited by Southeast Asian communications consultant Philip Behnke.

Professor Andrew Marton, Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UNNC, said: “The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China places great emphasis on producing cutting-edge research that is relevant for business, industry and the communities around us.

“We hire leading academics from top universities and research institutions around the world. Their research feeds into our teaching programs so that our students are benefiting from learning in an environment where the latest information is available,” he said.

“Students at UNNC receive an internationally excellent education that equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful careers in a challenging global environment,” added Professor Marton.

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