This morning reminded me that having quality tools can give you a leg up, no matter what industry you’re in.
I bought an iPhone 5s a few days ago, and it apparently was just in time. What happened four days later – today – showed me that.
That’s when a propane tank exploded in front of the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, an event that became an anecdote for how quickly news stories like these can spread and how tools like the one I just purchased contribute to that.
I drove to the spot of the reported explosion. Police had put up their usual mustard-colored DO NOT CROSS tape, and the red and blue lights on their cars stuttered up and down the street. While I waited for a police officer to come and talk to me, I started making Vines. Vines are six-second videos. If an actual movie were a full paragraph, a Vine would be a single abbreviated word.
In less than a minute, both Vines – which showed the basics of the scene – were up on my Twitter feed. That’s when my usual police contact – Lt. Mike Budreau – came over and filled me in about what was going on. I used my iPhone to record him on Big Boy video, got some more shots – TV people call them ‘B-roll’ – and took some photos.
Back at the office, I got to work on the video, which you can view in its final form here. I was able to edit the footage I’d gotten and add titles and transitions, all on the phone. I hit export. It uploaded to YouTube in about a minute. Then came the final step – attaching to the Mail Tribune site and putting it out in Twitter/Facebooklandia. Two hours later, we had another video, more content, more Tweeting, more photos.
My new phone – the newest, shiniest addition to my reporter’s toolbox – made a lot of it possible. All that plus a story for our website in such a short amount of time. The fact that a simpleton like me can do such tasks is frightening and cool at the same time.
But that’s where it’s headed. Hell, that’s where we are. News like this needs to be a four-course meal, not a bean burrito. At the same time, 21st century journalists are challenged with getting as much information up as possible; four-course meals you can microwave. I think we were able to do that today. Between videos, social media engagement, photos and written content, I think we served up something useful and interesting that left readers full.
And having the right tools really helped.