Up and coming hacks are stepping into a world where it is going to be imperative that they can operate cross-platform. A producer for Sky recently told my class that whether they hire someone often comes down to whether they are multi-skilled, i.e. they can produce content for video, radio and print.
Even if you are training in a specific area of journalism, being able to quickly and effectively come up with multi-media pieces will soon be expected in all areas of the media. Having the right collection of apps won’t make you the perfect multi-media journalist, but it will certainly help.
From lengthy research and reading your submissions I’ve put together a list of the most important apps for wannabe hacks.
I am limited, however, in that I can only speak for iPhone users. If you use Android, Blackberry or Windows, or think there’s something I’ve missed, leave your suggestions below and I’ll update this list to make it more definitive.
Camera+ – £0.69
Bar a live-streamed video, nothing gets a story out quicker than a photograph.
The iPhone’s camera is fairly impressive for a mobile, but it is restricted in what it can do. There are a number of apps which claim to boost the capabilities of the camera, but the one I’ve found works best is Camera+.
It’s cheaper than its competitors and offers everything you could need. It shoots well in low light, allows separate control of focus and exposure. It also features a brilliant little tool which gives instant clarity to poor shots – a marked improvement on the iPhone’s autocorrect.
Filmic Pro 2 – £2.99
The iPhone’s video capture isn’t bad, but it leaves a lot left to be desired. Enter Filmic Pro 2.
Any journalist watching the big events in the world will know the feeling when they hear the newsreader break the story of something dramatic and are left waiting for video.
In the time it takes for a camera team to set up and transmit video copy back, a decent video from an iPhone could already be up on YouTube and Twitter.
Filmic Pro 2 is a fairly cheap app that allows the user to edit things like exposure, composition, frame rate and audio levels.
The finished copy can then be uploaded straight to a host of services like YouTube or DropBox.
Teleprompt+ – £5.49
This is one for my broadcast journalism kin. Yes, at £5.49 it’s a bit steep, however, I only recently discovered this and already see it as money well spent.
There are a number of autoprompt apps out there and I’ve tried most of them. In my opinion, bar Teleprompt+, they are all terrible.
This little beauty allows you to quickly edit your script, change the font size and adjust the rolling speed. There are a number of days when time is of the essence, your head is full and standing around trying to remember the script to your piece to camera is sapping away at the minutes. For that, having a good autocue is really handy.
Evernote – FREE
It’s often said that the best things in life come for free. Evernote affirms this.
If you are anything like me and relied on the iPhone notes function as much as the day’s first cup of coffee, then Evernote will genuinely improve your life.
It’s essentially a multi-media note app which allows you to organise your to-do lists, store business cards, photos, audio, video, annotate copy.
A brilliant and essential app.
SoundCloud – FREE
There’s a lot of debate over which audio apps are best, with somewhat of a schism emerging between those who use SoundCloud and those who use Audioboo.
A proud member of the former faction, SoundCloud is a simple and effective way of recording and sharing audio clips and interviews. There isn’t much more that needs to be said.
That said, if you are a real radio fanatic then you may wanted to look into TwistedWave audio editor. It’s fairly expensive but gives you the chance to edit and fine-tune your piece.
Tweetdeck – FREE
Arguably one of the most important apps for any journalist, a good Twitter client is essential.
As well as my preferred choice, Tweetdeck was the client most recommended by you lot .
Tweetdeck allows you to optimise how you use Twitter for journalism. You can search for current goings-on and events, and see what pictures have been posted. It also allows you to keep tabs on your lists and sources.
Silly name, great app.
Bambuser allows you to stream live video from anywhere with a 3G connection. It works with significantly less hassle than Ustream and doesn’t require a wi-fi connection like Skype.
For broadcast journalists wanting to break news without having a truck, I can see this becoming really important.
Instapaper – £2.49
A great app for wannabes on the commute. If you find trying to load pages on the train as frustrating as I do then get Instapaper.
Don’t let the name fool you, I promise it won’t put the Guardian front page behind some gaudy filter.
Instapaper allows you to access articles offline in a pure text format – especially useful for wannabes who use the tube every day.
Flipboard – FREE
Another recent discovery, Flipboard is a really smart app which collates articles and media from your social network and displays them in a very attractive noticeboard.
You can also set it to find articles based on your interests.
Last, but by no means least, come the various liveblogging apps and services.
For breaking news or covering events (the London Mayoral election and the Presidential debates, for example), liveblogging is quickly becoming a newsroom standard.
The two main competitors at the moment are ScribbleLive and CoveritLive. I am slightly inclined towards the latter, though it’s a matter of personal preference. Both are free so it’s worth trying them out as liveblogging becomes more and more important. Both of these are free to download though they do require a paid subscription.
A short mention for Ocqur. It’s a new liveblogging system which is still in testing mode. I’ve had the chance to use it and it’s a really good system which I can see becoming big over the next year.
What are your favourite apps? What have we missed? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @WannabeHacks
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look