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iPhone App Teaches "Reporting 101" To Citizen Journalists

[ 4 ] January 27, 2012 |

A new app from the Global Media Forum called “Get it Right” provides a crash course in journalism, designed to improve the quality and reliability of reports delivered by citizen journalists…

While the promise of citizen journalism is significant, there is always the accompanying concern about the reliability of the reporting.

While numerous apps have been developed to support citizen journalism on the technical side, few have taken on the task of developing a reporter’s non-technical skill set.

In an effort to raise the standards of quality, Global Media Forum, a non-profit dedicated to training journalists, has released “Get it Right,” an iPhone app offering a mini-course in basic journalism.

"Get it Right" coursework

Billed as “A field guide to practical and critical thinking for citizen journalists,” the app takes would-be reporters step by step through the reporting process, from the equipment they’ll need to the questions they will need to ask and verify.

It offers a series of exercises designed to help citizen journalists develop their news sense, frame their stories, and improve their writing.

The app was developed by GMF president Catherine Antoine, who, in her daytime role, is the Director and Managing Editor of Radio Free Asia online.

Much of the coursework was developed by National Public Radio editor Martha Wexler.

Creation of the app, which is available free, was made possible through a grant to GMF from the National Geographic Society.

While currently available for the iPhone, an Android version is on the way, and translations into Russian, Arabic and French are planned.

Additional screenshots from the “Get it Right” app…

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Category: Ideas and Innovation

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Comments (4)

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  1. Interesting initiative. I’ve downloaded the app on my iPad2 but I am having display issues. The app only shows part of the screen. You can navigate left and right, but not up and down. Maybe a need to do a compatibility check?

    The app does ask the right set of questions as a guide to a novice eye-witness reporter.

    I think it is important to draw a distinction between a “journalist” and an in-field reporter. If you’re working in a difficult country where fact checking via the web is either difficult or impossible, then the best you can do is report as completely and fully as possible. This app is really of best use to in-field citizen reporters.

    Researching the back story and asking what might happen next seems to me to be something that broadcasters like RFA add back in Prague or Washington. They alone have access to the resources of their own reporters and specialists, the large news agencies. They also have the authority needed to get officials to give statements. Many countries require journalists to register with the authorities. We all know why. If you don’t, not only will officials refuse to speak with you, but they will often block any foreign payments made by overseas broadcasters. To expect citizens, who presumably are not paid for their contributions, to do everything that paid journalists to may be asking too much of the audience.

    But is great to see broadcasters working more WITH the audience than for them.

    • Editor says:

      Good points, Jonathan.

      But in the third paragraph you suggest a scenario whereby the professionals research the story and follow through. While absolutely correct, in practice it is difficult.

      Think of it this way, on a single story, there’s little problem. But when hundreds if not thousands of in-field amateurs are dumping content onto the web expecting it to be verified by professionals, it quickly becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. Storyful is a company with this model. But even with their full-time efforts, the process ultimately results in a very limited number of actual stories verified. They must pick and choose which of the hundreds of leads to follow up on, leaving countless other stories never reported. It’s just a resource issue.

      At some point, the bar has to be raised at the source level. Since we can’t put everyone through J-school, an app like this is an invaluable resource to NGOs and the like, creating a larger pool of more competent “stringers” to call upon.

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