New technology enables reporters to broadcast solo on the (cheap) fly:
- Armed with $15,000 in satellite phones and computers, Preston Mendenhall calls himself a “one-man band” who writes stories, snaps photographs and shoots video in combat zones.
The international editor for MSNBC.com spent most of February traveling alone in Syria, then joined other reporters in northern Iraq to record Kurdish reactions to the American-led bombing.
His latest multimedia report – video, still images and words – described a U.N.-backed oil-for-food program, whose collapse blocked fresh food supplies to 60 percent of Iraq’s 25 million people.
“You get a connection, set up the camera, point it at yourself and just do it — you’re live,” Mendenhall said from a satellite phone. “But if there’s any weapons of mass destruction, I’m outta here.”
Mendenhall, who sends pixelated video through a pair of special satellite telephones, is one of a growing number of journalists relying on lightweight laptops, satellite phones, inexpensive editing software and digital cameras.
They file real-time reports with equipment that is a fraction of the cost and size of conventional, shoulder-mounted cameras and other gear. They file primarily for the Web, with images they’ve edited themselves at the scene, and occassionally contribute to television.
The technology has resulted in streaming video from the most remote places on earth. It has also enabled a new breed of reporter, known as a “backpack journalist,” who often has greater mobility and flexibility than a camera crew.
“The people who can shoot video, write stories, do radio on the side, basically do it all – these are the journalists of the future,” said John Schidlovsky, director of the Washington-based Pew Fellowship in International Journalism. “The technology has made journalism much more immediate and instantaneous.” [Washington Post]
Kind of like multi-media blogging.