Speaking at a function meant to celebrate the launch of Patrika TV on February 6, Siddhartha Kothari provided an insight into the meticulous planning that has shaped the channel’s birth. Announcing that Patrika has “used all newspaper journalists to run television”, he stated that the upcoming channel underwent rigorous “internal testing” for a period of one year. Instead of hiring television journalists, Patrika equipped newspapermen with the required skill set claiming to have grown 30 times stronger than before.
“We are the world’s first television where all the newsfeed is coming from a mobile phone,” said Kothari, Additional Managing Director, Rajasthan Patrika Pvt. Limited. Mobile journalism or MoJo is fast catching the fancy of publishers and broadcasters. The conversation is no longer simply restricted to user experience in terms of mobile-first exposure but utilising smartphones to create content. With the evolution of technology, smartphones are now capable of capturing video footage in high definition.
Television star’s tryst with MoJo
Considering their mobility and cheaper market rates vis-a-vis professional broadcast cameras, broadcasters and publishers are beginning to effectively exploit the smartphone for content creation. In January, Barkha Dutt, one of India’s most celebrated television journalists, decided to bid adieu to NDTV. Shortly after, Dutt forged a partnership with Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion Media to cover the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
“I will be travelling across the state with just this. Yes, that’s about it, a cellphone and my selfie stick,” Dutt said in her first promo for The Quint. As part of “On The Road With Barkha”, she promised to bring “big leaders, unseen stories (and) unheard voices” to her viewers with the help of her smartphone.
Within days Dutt had pulled off interviews on smartphones and DSLR cameras with the likes of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party leader Aparna Yadav. She also reported from the war rooms of parties such as the BJP. Being a veteran of television news, she was wowed by the superior production quality.
If Dutt was busy shooting on mobile phones in Uttar Pradesh for a mobile-first platform, her former employer NDTV was not far behind as they broadcast footage from domestic election battlefields shot on a mobile phone. Hence, even a broadcaster like NDTV went beyond the usage of MoJo for just Facebook Live videos.
MoJo is the Future
Having joined Hindustan Times last year, Yusuf Omar who is a self-described “jeans journalist”, has concentrated on building a team of 750 mobile journalists at the legacy print player. The exercise has been quite fruitful as some of HT’s correspondents have begun to think visually and have ceased to merely be print storytellers.
On the other hand, Omar has himself used Snapchat filters to innovatively report on sensitive subjects resulting in praise from the international media. When asked whether the ongoing year will result in mobile phones emerging as the foremost content creation tools, he said, “Mobile phones will and have been the primary content creation tool since 9/11.” He spoke about their popularity in documenting movements such as Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter.
“In 2017, we are going to get into the real aggregation of this content and the curation of several people’s selfie journalism. But I don’t think that publishers will win this game but platforms like Snapchat (will), who are already doing this,” he added. While Omar’s assessment should be food for thought for content creators, there is no denying that mobile phone-led newsgathering has received a huge impetus in the beginning of 2017 with both institutional and individual media brands opting for MoJo.