Journalism apps – now that’s smart


By Steve Key • HSPA

Smartphone and tablet technology has given journalists more flexibility to create content, whether print, audio or video, than I ever imagined as a reporter working for my first newspaper in 1977.

My tools then were a reporter’s notebook, ballpoint pen and a typewriter.

If a photo assignment called for anything above headshots and team photos, a photographer came along.

A journalist now can cover a story and electronically submit it to an editor for web posting or print publication, or he or she can post to a multitude of social networking sites directly. All it takes is a smartphone or tablet.

Val Hoeppner, director of education for The Freedom Forum Diversity Institute in Nashville, Tenn., recently taught Indiana journalists how to report faster and create multimedia content easier with apps that offer editing, note-taking, utility, location and live-streaming functions.

Almost 70 journalists attended the workshop at The Indianapolis Star on May 3.

Following is a sampling of the apps Hoeppner previewed that journalists should consider:

Evernote – A free note-taking app that can sync text, photos and audio to other Internet-connected devices. Journalists can use it to take notes, write stories and photo captions, and submit work for editing.

Dropbox – Archive photo, audio and video files in a cloud so your mobile device memory isn’t depleted. It’s free, unless you max out a certain capacity level, which Hoeppner said is easy to monitor to avoid charges.

5-0 Police Scanner – Allows one to listen to local police, fire and ambulance radio traffic. It can run in the background while a journalists writes a story or takes photos. It’s free on the iPhone. Hoeppner recommended the Scanner Radio app for Android users.

Abbyy TextGrabber – This allows you to capture a document as either a PDF or digital text.

iTalk – Turns your smartphone into a tape recorder that can email files.

Google Voice – Hoeppner says this is the cheapest way to record incoming phone calls on your smartphone, but it doesn’t do outgoing calls. She reminded journalists that ethically they should let people know they are being recorded.

Pinterest – This is a growing social bulletin board. She said newspapers are making good use of this site for food, lifestyle and travel content.

Instagram – A social network for photos. Hoeppner said newspapers can tap into this site to run travel photo contests or allow readers to submit photos of events like the a mini-marathon or county fair.

Filter Storm – This is Hoeppner’s favorite photo-editing app. You can write captions and send files directly out of this program.

ZoomIt – This allows you to take the small memory card from a digital camera and plug it into a smartphone to transmit photos.

Audio Boo – Allows you to record and publish audio clips of up to five minutes. Users can’t edit the clip though. Hoeppner advises reporters to prep people being interviewed about the time limit and need for concise responses.

Ustream and Ustream Producer – This gives journalist the ability to record video and stream it live. The Producer allows for multiple live streams that an editor can switch from one feed to another. This app can be embedded into a newspaper’s web site.

Splice – Hoeppner says this is better than iMovie for video editing. She said trimming is more intuitive, and the app allows for voiceover and music addition.

Tumblr – Allows for posting from a mobile device, whether it’s text, photo, a link, audio or video.

Hoeppner’s six-hour presentation had so much information to absorb my brain hurt.

Steve Key is executive director and general counsel for HSPA.