A field reporter sitting in a car uses a mobile app for news production.

News Production from the Field: The Best Mobile Apps from Shoot to Story

July 26, 2021

Broadcast news workflows are evolving quickly. As organizations direct reporters, multimedia journalists, and camera operators to clock more time in the field and less in the newsroom, enabling remote collaboration is essential for these distributed teams. Far-flung reporters will have to write stories and scripts, edit video, and share files outside of the newsroom—and they have to rely on the best mobile apps to mimic the simplicity they expect from their everyday consumer tech.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated this trend toward remote reporting, forcing news workflows to shift more quickly than anyone could have imagined. And now that newsrooms are seeing the kind of professional results reporters can achieve remotely, these news production apps are becoming more of a go-to preference than a fall-back option.

News Production Has Gone Mobile

Communities are looking inward, and viewers want local TV news that genuinely hits close to home. News managers have responded by embedding reporters in the field to work geographic beats. Many hours previously spent commuting to the station are instead devoted to producing more and better stories connected to the community.

Whether by work-from-home mandate or for the benefit of localized news, reporters need tools to produce quality stories while covering their local areas up-close. It's fortunate, then, that just as in their daily lives, reporters can now download a treasure trove of mobile apps to better their professional lives. Unlike what consumers might load onto their phones, many of these apps are designed specifically for journalists to satisfy the unique demands of news production. While smartphones can shoot high-quality video, these mobile apps need to be a cut above.

Targeted mobile apps put editorial collaboration, shooting video, editing and contributing stories, or fast file transfers right in reporters' hands. The right combo of apps can streamline remote work, satisfy the demands of news managers looking to increase story counts, and make it easy for reporters to meet high expectations—and potentially do it better than traditional equipment.

The Best Mobile Apps for New Production

Reporters can count on mobile apps to assist them at every turn in the production process.

Collaboration. The Avid MediaCentral Collaborate app (iOS, Android) offers an effective alternative to face-to-face planning meetings in the newsroom. It streamlines story planning and assigning personnel early in the news cycle, regardless of location. Collaborate allows assignment editors to set deadlines, assign reporters and others to stories, and allocate technical resources for coverage. Reporters in the field can access assignments and deadlines, while news managers get a real-time view into how stories are progressing.

Editing. As reporters cut footage, they need access to powerful yet intuitive nonlinear editing tools on their mobile devices. The LumaFusion app's (iOS) simple design makes the learning curve easy to climb for busy journalists. The app adapts to personal preferences by saving presets for future stories.

Asset management. Reporters also need easy access to the visual resources of their station; the Avid MediaCentral Cloud UX app (iOS, Android) gives reporters mobile access to video clips and newsroom stories from their station's asset management system. Meanwhile, those on set can use the app to replace printed scripts.

Transferring files. To contribute video from the field, reporters must be able to compress video files without degrading HD quality, and then seamlessly transfer those files to cloud or on-prem environments so that other newsroom team members can retrieve them to add to the rundown or post online. The latakoo Flight app (iOS, Android) is a popular choice for file acceleration, turning the hours typically needed to send large video files into minutes.

Regardless of exactly what aspect of the job a reporter is trying to accomplish, their phone can make it happen from anywhere. It's just a matter of finding the right tool for the job and integrating it with the existing news workflow.

Promoting Productivity for Distributed Teams

In today's news environment, reporters are ever more enmeshed in the local communities they serve. They must find alternatives that promote productivity while integrating themselves into a newsroom that could be tens, if not thousands, of miles away.

As Philip Bromwell, Digital Native Editor at Ireland's RTÉ and a pioneer of mobile journalism, quipped in an episode of the Making the Media podcast, "If you are using your phone just to do Facebook and answer emails and telephone calls, it's like driving a Ferrari in first gear." With a growing library of mobile apps designed specifically for news production, journalists have constant access to the tools they need.

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