Sunday, September 07, 2008

Digital Citizen Indaba: Mobile Reporters Tell Their Stories

In the interactive panel moderated by Peter Verweig (School of Journalism, Utrecht), Anteyaw Debrah (Ghana) and Munene Kilongi (Kenya) shared their experiences as mobile reporters for Voices of Africa. Both use the Nokia N73. While the project provided them the Nokia N73 phones, the phones are also available from retailers.

Mobile reporting offers unique and powerful tool for news dissemination, says Anteyaw. Munene gave a breakdown on how mobile reporters work. In addition to assigned stories, the digital citizens are also on the look-out for fresh new stories.

However, getting people to take you seriously as a journalist when you use a mobile phone as a tool is very hard, he says. You have to be very convincing to get people to talk to you, he says.

He notes that the Western media traditionally reports bad news on Africa. For example, the political problems in Kenya at the beginning of the year affected less than a quarter of Kenya, yet Western media gave the impression that all of Kenya was burning. Also, once the political problems ended.

Peter noted that while the mobile is becoming an important primary tool for the digital citizen in Africa, his research showed that journalists in Europe only use a mobile phone as secondary tool. The reason is that they have access to laptops and related Internet connections, and the fact that the mobiole keypad is small makes it less attractive as a primary workstation.

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