Mobile Journalism: Responsible Reporting During Pandemic

Mobile journalism (MoJo) has appeared as a new journalism skill that every journalist has to learn. Its significance increases for reporters working in remote areas where they lack access to professional equipment. A good smartphone and a few techniques to use it professionally help them deal with their professional duties efficiently.
MoJo is getting popular among Pakistani journalists as well. They now use their smartphones to record, edit and share their stories. However, there are very few training opportunities covering MoJo to cater their needs. This is why Global Neighbourhood for Media Innovations (GNMI) arranged an online workshop, ‘Responsible Reporting through Mobile Journalism Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 and Polio’ for journalists working in the southwestern and conservative province of Pakistan, Balochistan.
A total of 11 journalists attended the workshop, out of which four were women. Senior journalist Gibran Ashraf was the lead trainer. He guided the participants through the basics of mobile journalism, demonstrating the various ways journalists could use their smartphones in reporting their news with restricted access to newsrooms and respecting the rules of social distancing. In the second session of the workshop, senior journalist Afia Salam talked about ethical journalism and how it can be practiced during pandemics when journalists have limited mobility. She also told the difference between misinformation and disinformation that journalists often confuse.
Ashraf said journalists have been using smartphone in their work for years but the pandemic has showed them the versatile ways it can be used into. He believes that MoJo will become the future of journalism in the post pandemic world.
Muhammad Younas Baloch was one of the attendees of this training workshop. He works as a district reporter for a private TV channel in Pakistan. He said it was the first time he attended training on MoJo. He was using his smartphones to record footages and clips. He would send those raw footages to his editor for editing and postproduction work because he lacked knowledge of any editing app that he could use to edit the clips to his liking. Baloch says sometimes he has creative differences with the final version of the package and want a different approach.
In this training session, he learned about apps that journalists could use to edit their videos on their smartphones. He said the training had helped him to produce his packages himself. Now, he shares the full package with his editor.
‘In my opinion, these trainings are highly beneficial for those who lack prior media studies qualification. They learn about new practices and develop connections that help them move forward in their career.’
Another attendee Sports journalist Mehak Shahid runs a YouTube channel that covers sports-related news from Balochistan. Talking about her experience of the training, she says it taught her safe reporting practices that journalists must follow during health crises and pandemics.
Journalists in Balochistan and FATA face connectivity issues the most in their work. Shahid told that the trainer suggested them to keep two sim cards of different companies to make sure they are always connected. Shahid said these workshops and training are highly beneficial for journalists, especially those from Balochistan and FATA who get fewer opportunities otherwise.
Journalists working in Balochistan face extremely stressful conditions, with pressure being wielded by militant groups, district administration, and tribal leaders. Furthermore, the Covid-19 has threatened freedom and integrity of information in more than many ways in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and former FATA. GNMI launched this project to create and provide learning opportunities for its beneficiaries.

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