By Ekpali Saint
Until January 2022, Muhammad Abubakar never imagined he could ever produce and edit videos with his mobile phone. That changed after he participated in a three-day training in mobile journalism and video production organised by the Center for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, a non-governmental organisation, and facilitated by Titilope Fadare, a senior multimedia journalist at Premium Times. During the training in Yola, the capital of Nigeria’s northern state of Adamawa, Abubakar learned how to use video and editing applications such as InShot and KineMaster.
“Initially, I thought videos can only be produced with a [professional] camera and edited with a computer,” the 30-year-old said. “But it became interesting when I realised during the training that one can produce videos using his mobile phone.”
Mobile Journalism (MoJo) is a form of digital storytelling where journalists use mobile phones to gather, edit, and distribute news content to an audience. It entails the use of smartphones to film, takes photographs, record audio, write stories, edit, and disseminate to the audience.
Before now, the high cost of sophisticated equipment such as a professional camera often discouraged journalists from producing video content. But many journalists around the world are embracing mobile journalism because it is cheaper, improves reporting, and helps journalists to avoid carrying lots of equipment during reporting.
In Nigeria, however, a lack of training in mobile journalism is discouraging journalists from exploring this form of storytelling. But Fadare is helping to fill this gap. Her drive to start training journalists in mobile journalism for free started after attending a six-month programme in mobile journalism and video production in August 2020. From the programme, she realised that journalists don’t necessarily need sophisticated tools and resources to produce multimedia content. She believes access to a mobile phone and the right skills to use the phone are sufficient to produce quality video content.
“I don’t want newsrooms [in Nigeria] to be left out in the emerging genre in journalism,” Fadare said. “Mobile journalism is a cheaper alternative. You can do anything multimedia with your phone and it comes out really great.”
She adds that “You don’t have to go to the field and then run to the newsroom to edit. You can do all that on your phone. [Since] a lot of newsrooms do not have the resources, mobile journalism is an alternative to exploring [as] it helps to increase the productivity of newsrooms in Nigeria.”
Although newsrooms sometimes invite her to facilitate training sessions for journalists, Fadare periodically holds free training for interested journalists. Before training commences, Fadare first creates an application form and shares it on her social media pages. Besides providing personal information, applicants are also required to provide a pitch in the application. Although Fadare gets a pool of nearly 60 pitches, she only shortlists a few to enable her to guide and work closely with selected journalists during the training, which sometimes lasts for three days.
After the training, Fadare adds the participants to a WhatsApp group chat where she updates them on new tools as well as guides and provides clarification to those who may have any questions.
So far, she has facilitated eight trainings and trained over 100 journalists from different newsrooms including Leadership Newspaper, The Nation, and Premium Times. Last August alone, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism sponsored a session that enabled Fadare to train 13 journalists in mobile journalism.
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“An exciting experience”
The training is already making an impact. Four months after attending the training, Abubakar launched Hantsi-News, an online TV, where he posts his video contents. So far, he has produced over 100 videos both for his platform and other media outlets, including Adamawa Broadcasting Corporation, where he works as a reporter.
“It is interesting filming with a phone. I was taught how to shoot video and how to hold the phone even without a stand [or tripod],” he said.
Chika Mefor-Nwachukwu, who was recently trained in mobile journalism, sees the idea of video production with mobile phones as an opportunity for journalists to improve their reporting. She has produced four videos since her training last year.
“It is an exciting experience. The fact that you can use your phone to do all that is mind-blowing,” Chika Mefor-Nwachukwu, a multimedia journalist at Aljazirah Nigeria newspaper, said. “It has given us, journalists, who have always wanted to produce videos to do that [with phones].”
Recently, Fadare introduced her students to podcasting and explained how they can convert videos to audio. Also, Fadare taught them how to fact-check pictures and videos using tools such as Amnesty International’s YouTube Data Viewer, TinEye, and InVid browser extension. These tools help to determine the origin of the videos and if they have been published elsewhere online.
But there are challenges associated with mobile journalism. First is that mobile phones have limited space to store large video files, and second is that transferring files from one mobile application to another can reduce the quality of the video. To address these challenges, Fadare advised journalists to get a hard drive to transfer raw files to the drive. And to help maintain video quality, Fadare urged journalists to use Telegram while transferring files from one mobile phone to another.
Meanwhile, Fadare was recently granted a scholarship for the Nuffic Orange Knowledge scholarship program for an in-person course in the Netherlands. The program, which will last for three weeks beginning from February 27, will train participants in Digital Media Creation. Fadare hopes to learn new “skills in multimedia and to train journalists” when she returns.
For Abubakar, he is still focused and has continued to promote mobile journalism by training his colleagues how to shoot and edit videos with their mobile phones. “The reason is that I want them to also have the knowledge so as to ease their work,” he said.
Reporting supported by a micro-grant from Jamlab