What’s in the bag? #mojoconedc

Glen Mulcahy’s MojoCon – that’s the mobile journalism conference – is running a very cool competition in the build-up to the event, asking journalists to show the contents of their mobile kit.

Now, some of the rigs being shown are seriously impressive, with thousands in gear – but here’s what I get by on as a digital scribbler on a personal budget.

Bag contents, numbered for reference
Bag contents, numbered for reference.

Basically, I’m not a professional TV broadcast journalist, so my bag needs to cover web production – basic photo, video, audio, copy-filing, internet and call recording.

Not pictured is my photo equipment – except for the tripod, which I only lug around when I know I’ll need it.

What’s all this, then?

1 – iPad: Self explanatory, really. I don’t carry a laptop, as an iPad weighs far less. I sold my MacBook Pro after I built a custom media / gaming PC a few years ago, and I haven’t missed it. Unless you need to use specific software mandated by work, tablets can do almost everything for you on the go.

2 – Incase Origami and wireless keyboard: The Incase is beautiful. It’s a cover for the official Apple bluetooth keyboard that folds into a stand, transforming the iPad into a great writing device. But it can be left behind when you know you won’t need to write.

3 – iPad charger: Handily also charges the iPhone with a lightning connector, meaning I only need to carry one.

4 – Microfibre cloth: For lenses, screens, and the glasses on my head.

5 – Shoulderpod S1: A brand new addition, but I already love it. The Shoulderpod is a smartphone mount for any phone that acts as a tripod attachment, desk stand, and a handy freehand filming rig with wrist strap. Very well designed.

6 – iPhone 6: The heart of the operation. A much-needed upgrade from the 4S, encased in an Otterbox Commuter case.

7 – Olympus WS-650S and TP-8 pickup: This ageing warrior has been with me since college. I’d love to upgrade to a better audio recorder, but with its stereo microphone, this guy does just fine in most situations for recording external audio for video, or just for notes.

The TP-8 in-ear pickup is great for phone conversations, too – recording both sides of any call when placed in the ear.

8 – Victorinox ‘climber’ model: Because having a pocket knife is really darn handy.

9 – Pen and paper: Again – handy. The Pilot G2 is a damn good pen, by the way.

10 – Slik Able 300 DX tripod: Extremely optional. This tripod comes from my DSLR photo gear, and it’s not very mobile. It only gets carried over the shoulder when I know I’ll need it – when I’m specifically going out to do video or photo work. I really need to get around to buying a lightweight gorillapod etc.

My other photo gear isn’t really brought out that often – a Nikon D80 (anicent, I know) SB-800 speedlight, 18-135mm, 50mm 1.8, and 70-300 VR.

The point is, I may not own a huge amount of expensive gear, but this small bag covers everything I might need to do well enough. Minimalism is important!

PS – taking a photo of your own smartphone is a bit of a logistical problem.

Facebook’s 800lb gorilla – 2014 media developments

What are all the big players doing in the media business?

I was catching up with podcasts at the gym and finally got around to listening to journalism.co.uk’s round-up of 2014 developments in the media business.

It’s very good.

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The interviewees are the head of innovation journalism, City University London, senior writer at GigaOm, and the social media editor at the The Wall Street Journal. Here’s a fantastic little gem from their section on Facebook’s growth:

The biggest issue is … Facebook is this giant, 800-pound gorilla. They get to determine which content you see and which you don’t see, and they don’t tell you why or how…

It’s the biggest catch-22 in media right now – you cannot avoid Facebook – it has a billion people – and it’s got huge levels of engagement … but the more you deal with it, the more value you’re transferring to [it].

Facebook owns all the printing plants, all the satellites, all the trucks and all the news stands, and all the boys who sell papers in the streets.

That’s Mathew Ingram of GigaOm, who concludes that because we’re promoting our best content on social, our audience will end up associating good content with Facebook, not the creator.

It’s well worth a listen in full, as they also cover what business models companies tried out in the past year in a quick summary – the sale of Auto Trader, the Times paywall, and so on.

How to enjoy reading magazines

How to read this magazine instructionsInside the Story, a great magazine from digital journalist-turned-producer Adam Westbrook, has just released its fourth issue – the last this year. It contains, like the other issues, this wonderful reminder at the front that attentive reading is a very different thing from enjoying a novel or flicking through Buzzfeed.

With the decline in popularity of RSS readers and blogging, and the current trend to easy clicks and short-form content, this kind of bold announcement that you’ll need to pay attention is nice. It’s essentially a big call-to-action, and sets the tone nicely for a publication that covers some interesting ideas in depth.

The series as a whole is very much worth your time. The initial concept is usually online for free here, which features wisdom from some of the English language’s best digital storytellers (but seems to be down right now).

The real meat, though, is in the four-part magazine series. I encourage you to pick them all up, but trying out issue one on the use of narrative structure in non-fiction storytelling is a cheap way to test the waters.

Check it out.

The oddball art of advertising newspapers

Update: Yes, it’s the Independent.

There have been some really interesting adverts popping up around Dublin – two starkly contrasting images with the simple tagline ‘we are defined by the choices we make.’

The general consensus seemed to be that the campaign was somehow connected to hot political topics, but now it seems like it may be an advertising campaign for newspapers.

Specifically, there are reports of the Irish Independent logo appearing on some of the adverts in town from Reddit Ireland users, and a claim that they placed a small site at independent.ie/lifesaboutchoices before quickly removing it.

If that’s true, the mind boggles. I’m fascinated by news media advertising strategies. The Irish Times recently went down the route of The Story of Why, the main piece of which is a long, self-congratulatory and overly ‘arty’ video that screened ahead of feature films. It hit wide of the mark, I think, because it portrayed the news business the way it wants to be seen. But it doesn’t focus on the reader or tell the reader what the news can do for them.

That contrasts sharply with one the most famous ads for The Guardian, which sells the benefit directly to the reader – they show you both sides of the story.

‘Life’s about choices’ looks like another high-end campaign. The posters have done their job of piquing interest, and it’s damn fine work from whichever agency was involved. But the tone of the campaign, based around choice, is an odd one for a newspaper, which historically have liked to be seen as impartial.

I wonder how they’ll proceed with this. I hope the campaign centres around informing people to make choices rather than telling people what choices to make. The Indo has been a pretty divisive paper for a few years, so a new brand strategy, if that’s what this is, will be very interesting.

Rolling the dice for a scoop

The media frenzy following the death of Michael Jackson has been discussed in depth, and done to death, elsewhere. I planned to completely ignore the topic, but today, @suzzaneyada posted a link via Twitter to an interesting post on the LA Times website, asking what would have happened had TMZ been wrong. Did TMZ and others really know, or did they just roll the dice? I know I didn’t accept the fact until the PA report confirmed the facts.

I don’t really want to weigh in on the tired topic of the troubled artist, but from a media perspective, I think the question is important.