Clyde Bentley has invited me to his Solving Practical Problems class today. The goal of the class, as the name would suggest, is to tackle a current problem in journalism and solve it through research. This semester’s class is looking at the role of cell phones in journalism. I’m to participate in a focus group/discussion, so the students can see how it works.
Given Clyde’s record as a new media mind, I’m assuming the goal is to be a bit more than just “I use them to get calls from sources.” Although Clyde assures me that no preparation is necessary, just speculation, I’d like to be prepared for what might hit me.
Obviously, phones are a two-way method of communication, so they can both be used to push news to readers and get news from them. Smart phones and Twitter can help with coverage, as we saw in Mumbai and the Hudson plane crash. And The Guardian is among British newspapers that uses cell phone photos in print, as well as on its site.
But most of the population is still using some form of a phone that mostly just texts and makes calls. So the question is, to reach a mass audience, how can we creatively use that technology for news?