Mobile Journalism: class blog


App Reports: due 9-16-09

As talked about in class today, Apps have been a major differentiator for the iPhone, and has kept the platform as an innovation leader. While there are all sorts of inventive and interesting apps, browsing through the app options, you’ll see that there are very few that deal specifically with journalistic concerns.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the many Apps available don’t provide some interesting concepts for adaptation for journalism. For instance: What’s a Foursquare for news look like? Or a Yelp for city services?

For this assignment, choose ONE App from the Apple App Store, Google Android Marketplace, Blackberry App World, or other mobile app store (some will be pretty slim pickings through). And:

• Document what the app is, how it works, and what is innovative about it.
• Give FIVE ways that some of the core concepts or technologies in the application could be adapted to serve journalism. This can be a basic list, calling out each piece.
• Using that list as a starting point, flesh out the user experience of this new journalistic application in narrative form. How does a person use this application? What do they do with it? What services does it bring them? What is the experience like?

The total report should be around 400-500 words. Please post it to the comments of this post.


Filed under: Homework

12 Responses

  1. The Pandora app for the iPhone lets you take the popular online streaming music site on the go. Pandora is unique in that it picks songs similar to what you have told it you already like, and then vote up a song or block it from play to continue the specification of your station. You also get multiple channels and can be as vague or focused as you want. Pandora is considered online radio, but only offers music.

    If you take the model of Pandora and adapt it for news broadcast it creates an entirely new form of news radio. A set of prerecorded stories could be created nightly and cataloged in different genres, much like music is. The user can pick one topic or story of that day. The algorithm would be able to figure out what else the user may like. The user can customize the station to their liking. They can then walk or commute and get the most efficient flow of news sent directly to them. And major news can be broadcast through a single platform as it is breaking and stream in immediately, then give the option to follow more or back to the regular station.

    Frank commutes to and from work over an hour each way on public transportation. He works a manual labor job, and has little time to access a computer, watch TV or read a paper. At work he is allowed a music player though to make the day go better and to keep morale up. He often feels left out from conversation about the world around him. A new streaming radio station come out and he can get it on his iPhone. He starts it up and is stuck listening through a lot of weather reports, traffic and sports chatter and gives up on it. A new feature is released that allows him to cut our the fat and get to the meat of what he wants.

    He gets breaking news near him, political commentary and overwhelmingly important news. On September 11, 2001 he gets to work at 6 a.m. like normal and starts up the radio. A few hours later his broadcast is interrupted telling of a major terrorist attack in New York where he has family. Within seconds he calls them and finds they are O.K. and have no idea what attack he is talking about yet. He goes back to streaming the coverage and updates the others that are working with him.

  2. Lisa Guillen says:

    Movie Genie is an application for the iPhone that lets you access information for any actor, movie, television show and video game using as its source for the information. You simply search a keyword and the application will display all related material, giving you a quick and easy way to get information from the website without having to go to it. The app also lets you save your favorite pages for easy access later and gives you a quick summery of each entry at the top of every page. This application basically provides you with the exact information you want without all the hassle of Googling.

    So I thought, what if you used the same basic concept but applied it to news stories? Just like Movie Genie uses Internet Movie Database, this new app – lets call it News Genie – can use a news gathering site like Google News as its source for information. But why is this even useful? Let’s look at it from a journalist’s point of view. Let’s say, for example, that last night there was another robbery on the northside of Chicago and you know that there have been a pattern of such robberies within the last few months but the details are a little fuzzy to you. Well, all you have to do is open the app and search something like “Northside Chicago robberies” and a list of stories related to those keywords will come up in order from the most recent to the oldest. Each story will include a summery and provide you with a link to the original source as well as any related material, just like searching for a movie on Movie Genie would provide you with similar information. Basically, News Genie is like your own personal news bank in the palm of your hand. Now from an everyday citizens point of view, News Genie can be used for many things. Just like Movie Genie has actor pages this app would have writer pages. This is helpful if you favor a certain writer but don’t always want to dig through a publications website just to find them. You just open the News Genie application, type in the writers name and a list of that writers most recent stories pops up, very similar to how a list of an actors most recent movie would do so. News Genie would also let you search by publication and each publication would have their own page that would include a list of the latest articles from that publication. This is most like a production company page on Movie Genie that provides a list of the companies latest projects.

    Another helpful thing is that you can save pages to come back to at a later date. For example, Kate found a news story about a city council vote, which cut the funding for her cities environmental and recycling programs. Kate knows her co-worker Ann is very eco-friendly so she decides to save the story in the application because she knows she wants to tell Ann about it. Later that day she runs into Ann and begins to tell her all about the city councils decision however, she can’t seem to remember how much of the budget the city said they were going to cut. So, since she saved the article all she had to do is open the app, click on her saved stories and all the information she needs is right there ready to go. Because she has News Genie and used the save feature it took her half the time that it would take her to open the browser, search Google and click through to the link. This application lets you get the news that you’re most interested in without filling up your mobile device with things you aren’t interested in.

  3. danielzarick says:

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
    -Arthur C. Clarke’s third law (

    When thinking about new technologies I try to keep this quote in mind so as to know when I should be truly impressed with a product or service. The mobile live-streaming product from is one that has had me in disbelief every time I have used it. Qik [pronounced kwik] is an application that works with a wide-variety of mobile devices to seamlessly stream video live directly to the internet, as well as live chat, locational services, and sharing across social networks.

    Only on television has the idea of live video even existed, even for half a century. The market for live-streaming video on the web is very young, so to have the capability on mobile devices so soon is almost mind-blowing. There are a small number of other contenders in the mobile category, including, with the potential for other live-streaming video services to do a broad release for mobile platforms, such as and

    Five simple ways to adapt this for journalism: 1) Every employed journalist have a company-provided Qik compatible mobile device to be prepared for every moment. 2) When large-scale events happen, track the live-streams from local users within a short radius for broadcast or hyperlinking. 3) Utilize the live commenting feature for real-time communication from audience to broadcaster. 4) Build a network of citizen journalists equipped to broadcast live and utilize them when necessary 5) Companies like and can start using mobile live-streaming for more dynamic audience engagement.

    This application, especially when the right person is equipped with it (Mobile J students, particularly), becomes an incredibly powerful tool for the spreading of information directly from the source. Say that a fortunately tech-saavy person happens to live-stream a major news event to their website, and hopefully all of their Twitter followers and Facebook friends as well. There is the potential for that stream to immediately reach hundreds or thousands of eyes within moments. These moments are crucial, because if this stream is of an important event, then you redirect the traditional news channel directly to this person’s mobile device. Instead of waiting for the amateur footage to reach the news broadcast hours later, thousands or more people could be watching certain events unfold live from moments after they begin. Currently the experience may be a little clunky and slow, but there is tons of innovation in the live-streaming sector that will affect us all soon enough.

    Here is my profile. To use Qik with an iPhone it has to be jailbroken, so I haven’t used it recently at all. Also, I have the 2G iPhone, so you can imagine streaming live video from the device is pretty slow.

  4. Ashley McHale says:

    The World Book English Dictionary and Theasorus is an app on iTunes that works as a digital dictionary and theasorus and the entire content is equivilent to a 1800 page book. Not only does it find the correct spelling for the word and the definition, it will also pronounce the word usind the added real voice of Cindy.

    Any journalist needs a dictionary and this dictionary can be accessed without the need of an internet connection. When a journalist is writing they don’t need an internet connection to check the spelling of their words, the definition and synonyms and acronyms.

    When you can’t think of the word you would like to use in a story there is a sounds-like feature to use to search for the word.

    It will bookmark words looked up in the past where you can put notes on their definition to remind you what you used this word for and how you can use it again in a story.

    Journalists are always look for new words to use in their writing to keep it fresh and the word of the day feature on the World Book helps you out with that. Everyday the World Book will give you a list of words of the day then you can shake your device to get more random words to learn.

    When journalists look up words in the World Book they can also tap on any word in the definition’s content and it will look up that word with its browser –like definition navigation.

    This app is something any journalist needs because it is the best app out there that will give you a words definition, pronunciation and corect usage. This app can be used by journalists to not only edit stories but to also come up with other words to use in stories to freshen up their writing. This app has a very easy to use interface, the user simply types in a word and the World Book will tell you if you spelled the world wrong by giving you a list of worlds you could have meant, after that it will give you the defintion, synonyms and acronyms. While reading the definition a real voice will give you the correct pronunctiation for the word. It is very easy to use and imformative for word junkies and especially journalists.

  5. The Skype app for iPhone has proved a useful tool for instant face-to-face communication via internet, but its use for journalistic purposes could be wide reaching.

    Similar to Skype online, the app allows users free Skype-to-Skype calls and calls to non-Skype users for a somewhat minimal fee. It works on both the iPhone and iTouch.

    Advantages of Skype:
    1. The camera. It’s nice to see who one is talking to (and surroundings)
    2. Relatively quality video
    3. Instanteneousness
    4. Cost (free, oftentimes)
    5. Potential to record, documenting information

    Skype could have some interesting potential for news recording with development. Perhaps a news site could set up a Skype account for citizens to call and report on surroundings (aliens have landed on Michigan Ave., average citizen Joe calls Skype Tribune and records breaking footage). Likely this would be catered toward citizen journalists and those who aren’t necessarily trained as journalists, but who happen to be in a place or situation when news occurs. Recorded calls could be put in formats suitable for podcasts, radio and television.

  6. Annie Pilon says:

    The Urban Spoon app for the iPhone allows you to search for restaurants in your area. I believe this app could be modified and used by food/culture magazines to highlight their restaurant reviews. Currently, the app allows users to choose restaurant criteria and perform a search, or they can also leave it up to the app to pick one. From there, you can view the restaurant’s location, website, and user reviews.

    What’s good about this app is that it allows you to search for different types of criteria all at the same time. For example, instead of browsing by topic (Chinese, bar food, tapas, etc.) and then having to look for what might be in your price range or in your immediate area, you can choose each criteria you are looking for and the app will cross-reference for you. In contrast, you could also decide that you are up for whatever, and let the app make the selection for you.

    I think it would be beneficial for magazines that write restaurant reviews to utilize apps like this. When users find the restaurant they’re looking for (or if they’re still browsing) they can read the magazine’s professional reviews instead of user-written reviews that say “this restaurant sucks” or “hot waiter.”

    What I have in mind would be a mobile version of something like Time Out Chicago’s Eating and Drinking Guide. The guide lists restaurants by food type, neighborhood, price range, and also gives each restaurant a star rating and review. The Urban Spoon app (or other apps like it) is more convenient because it is available on your phone and you can perform a search as opposed to flipping through pages. On the other hand, many users might not find the reviews as trustworthy (if they even bother to look at them) because they are written by Joe Schmoe who doesn’t know the difference between their and there.

    Narrative: Jane has just received a last minute email from a client confirming a lunchtime meeting. “Let’s meet for sushi. I’m not from the area, but I’m sure you know of a great place,” says the email. With only an hour until the meeting time, Jane needs to find an appropriate location, and she needs to do it fast. She turns to her Urban Spoon app, and begins entering in her criteria. The phone finds her location, and searches for a restaurant in the vicinity. Jane chooses sushi for the food type and three dollar signs for her price range. The app then sorts gives her a list of restaurants fitting her criteria. The ones at the top have received five stars and the ones at the bottom have received one. There are two five-star choices. Jane clicks the first one to read the review. The reviewer loved the restaurant, but noted that it can get a bit crowded and noisy at lunchtime. Jane moves on to the next one. This one is still in the area, but a little ways off the main road, so it’s significantly less crowded. “Perfect!” she says. And her meeting was a success.

  7. Alex Zavala says:

    DGRadar is a free app for the iPhone that uses a radar interface to visually show points of interest around the user’s current location. The points of interest could be landmarks, restaurants or simply photographs of the location.

    While the feature of using the iPhone’s GPS capabilities to locate nearby areas is not unique to the device, the interface of a radar screen changes the app from a simple mapping program to an exploration program. DGRadar does not use a map at the moment to help guide users, but in the future if a map were added, the radar interface would be of interest to people exploring an unfamiliar area.

    According to one comment on the App Store, the photos linked in DGRadar are from a website. This means it can be possible to create a unique app and a unique website to fit journalistic needs.

    1) If a city based news organization needed a freelancer to cover a story, a program like this could tell other reporters about news stories nearby that need to be covered.
    2) The program could also work the other way, if a citizen finds an accident or other news event, he could take a photo and upload it to a news feed as a news event for people nearby to be aware of.
    3) If a group of freelance journalist needed to work together, they could create a website of their credentials (audio, video, photography, writing…etc) and use the program to search to nearby reporters to work with.
    4) If a newspaper ran a website and app, the paper can update the points-of-interest weekly with links to recent articles from the paper or website.
    5) If a newspaper wanted too, it can list houses and apartments for rent so a user can simply drive through a neighborhood he or she chooses to find places they are interested in.

    So in this hypothetical situation, Tom D. Harry is walking through the Lincoln Park neighborhood because he is looking at the apartments available for rent. Using the ClassifiedRadar, he can walk to places and see them for himself. While Tom walks to an intersection, he sees a large building on fire. He takes a picture with his iPhone and uploads the picture with his NewsHappensRadar. Now everyone nearby with an iPhone is aware of the fire and where it is.

    Thanks to the NewsHappensRadar, the Hypothetical Daily News hears about the fire. Because of recent financial trouble, there is no one currently in the office to go to the scene. The editor get on his HDNewsRadar map and lists the fire as a news event and requests a reporter. A freelancer who happens to be a few blocks away from the fire responds to the request and uses his UnifiedJournalistsRadar app to find a photographer to join him. They exchange information and meet at the fire.

    The fire is properly reported and the event is printed in the next issue of HD News. Readers learn about the fire and can now spot the location on their iPhone thanks to the HDNewsRadar.

  8. Tim Young says:

    The Live Stats Tracker app for the iPhone allows people to to follow their teams by the score of the game and gives a complete stat line as well.
    The app itself is nothing flashy or innovative, but with gambling and fantasy sports are more popular and still growing, the app can be a necessity for many.
    Sports journalist to get up-to-the-minute stats without having to click all over the internet can use the app.
    If the app is set for people to choose their favorite players or members of their fantasy teams, why can’t it be used for journalists?
    1. The app could be set-up just like it would for the players. You would select your favorite journalists.
    2. You would receive an update each time a new blog, newscast or print story would be submitted.
    3. You would be able to take your favorite stories and keep them in a place for easy access.
    4. Just like the stats tracker is divided up by sports and positions, this will be divided up by type of journalist, print, broadcast or radio, and by the type of piece, blog, newscast, podcast or print story, and by the subject, sports, entertainment, business and so on.
    5. There will be a chart for what journalist has the most subscribers to their work.
    Taking from the points above, the user of this app would go and select their favorite writers, columnists, bloggers and newscasters. For example, I would take Bill Simmons who writes for ESPN, Mike and Mike in the Morning’s podcast and Scott Van Pelt from ESPN’s Sportscenter and his podcast of the Scott Van Pelt radio show.
    I would get an update everytime they had a new piece of work done and I would be able to keep my favorites stored in an area for easy access.
    Each filed under their own category. Bill Simmons stories would be under print, his podcast would be under podcast with the podcast of Mike and Mike’s show and Scott Van Pelt’s show. Scott Van Pelt’s Sportscenter broadcasts would be under TV broadcasts. All of them would be under the category of sports. If I added an entertainment journalist, his or her story would be filed under the category or entertainment and under whatever kind of media it would be, print, broadcast and so forth.

  9. James Delaney says:

    Poynt is a free application available through the Blackberry App World that uses your mobile devices current GPS location and lets you search for movies, restaurants, local businesses, people, as well as look up a map of the area around you.

    The application has a very easy to navigate interface and is hard to get confused by. I personally use the app frequently when looking for movie times and restaurants wherever I may be. The fact that the application automatically knows wherever I am at that given time is very beneficial for these situations.

    I feel as though this application could be easily translated into the world of newspapers and magazines in five major ways.
    1) The fact that the application already knows where you are would be beneficial for delivering local news.
    2) The app runs smooth and isn’t just a bookmark for a page you have to load up on your mobile web browser (a problem that still plagues many of the apps for the blackberry)
    3) It is a very simple and easy to use with clearly labeled options, you don’t need to sign up for anything or register anything.
    4) When looking for a restaurant it uses the information from websites like yelp, opentable, and citysearch to give you your dining options as well as reviews and pricing, if translated into the news world (using a local newspapers site or even the AP) this would give users the news they want but also exposure to the local outlets.
    5) When looking up movies, you can tap on a button that says “top 10” and see what’s big in the box office, for news you could have a button that says “most viewed” or something of that nature.

    For example, say that application is transferred into the world of a music publication like SPIN magazine. I fly to Austin, Texas for a weekend to hang out with some friends. With this application and the GPS technology, it would already know I am in Austin and I could hit a button that shows me the entire lineup of local shows for that weekend. But say I don’t know much about any of the bands playing that weekend; there could be a local bands news button that gives you updates on any news happening with local bands. For example it would give you an update, similar to a press release, about the local band Brazos and their upcoming debut LP Phosphorescent Blues coming out November 10th. But just so I don’t lose touch with the music world outside of Austin, there is a button for major headlines, just in case I missed the latest Kanye West outburst at an award show. So I decide I want to go check out a show with some of my friends but I have never been to Austin, I have no idea where to go. Good thing the app decided to keep the Map it option so I can go from the local show app, type in the venue name and city and quickly have a map telling me how to get to the venue.

    This story could easily be translated for a news organization, local newspaper, or other magazines. All in all, the GPS and easy to use nature of the application really open numerous doors of possibility for this application to be translated into the world of journalism.

  10. There is never a day that goes by where I do not marvel at the TweetDeck application for the iPhone. There are countless apps in the AppStore where one can update their Twitter but the TweetDeck has proved to be the easiest and most rewarding one of them all. TweetDeck allows instant access to one’s Twitter feed, direct messages, and personal replies all within a very easy to use platform. The most innovative thing I love about it is the syncing that it can do with the version of TweetDeck that is made for a computer desktop.

    Adaptation for Journalism:
    -I can easily take a picture of a news story, an event or anything else and can easily upload it via TwitPic.
    -I can easily view different Twitter profiles and can look up other tweeters in order to get in contact with them.
    -I can view trending topics on Twitter and figure out what the big news of the day is.
    -Twitter instantly allows me to spread and gather information the moment it happens.
    -If I find an interesting news story on my phone, I can copy and past the URL and have TweetDeck shorten the URL so I can easily share it with my followers.

    While on his way to work on the express way, Erik notices that traffic suddenly comes to a complete stop in front of him as cars swerve to the left and right avoiding some unknown obstacle in the middle of the road. Stopping his car, Erik quickly exits his car to see what has caused the entire freeway to come to a standstill. There in the middle of the road was an overturned truck carrying gasoline. As other commuters frantically call 911, Erik has already taken his iPhone 3GS out and has taken photos and video of the scene around him. Accessing his Twitter through TweetDeck, he shoots off a few tweets about the accident; what happened, where it happened, etc and he uploaded the media as well. Within moments, the Chicago Tribune’s Twitter has noticed the story and retweets it, sending it out to their followers. And within minutes, those who follow Erik and The Tribune know to avoid the highway for the time being.

  11. Derek Brown says:

    The iHeartRadio app allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to listen to live streaming music from a selection of radio stations from across the United States. The app also offers an exclusive selection of digital only content and a talk radio section with personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Ryan Seacest. It also allows users to create a favorite list of radio stations and it give the opportunity for the listener to tag songs, with the option to buy it in iTunes.

    My idea is to create the iHeart TvNews app; it will allow people to access live streaming newscast from TV stations and 24/7 cable outlets. It will give the person the ability to watch a newscast from anywhere, giving them the freedom to choose when they get their news. The app will allow television station to post videos throughout the day, so users can filter the stories and easily find the news content that matters to them. The app will also allow people to sign up for breaking news bulletins, so they will be able to watch President Obama as he address the nation or be notified of sever weather in their area.

    The person that will benefit from this app is someone that wants to be able to stay informed with current event but doesn’t have the time to read the newspaper or sit down to watch the nightly newscast because they are on the go none stop. Opening the app the users will be asked if they want to use their location, this will allow for all of the local news to be one touch away. The homepage will arrange all of the viewer’s favorite news stations across the top and with one tap they can tune into the station. Under the station section the viewer can choose form a selection of videos, updates or a live newscast. The user of the app also has the advantage of being able to get news from out of market areas, so say a person living here in Chicago has family in Las Vegas, they can add that station as a favorite and be able to watch their nightly news and be informed of what is happening in Sin City. The other advantage for the app is that it wall stream 24/7 cable news outlets and viewers can set reminders for updates on prime-time shows like Anderson Cooper 306° or Rachel Maddow.

    This app will give people the power to choose when they watch the news, from anywhere.

  12. Compared to the current crisis that has hit the newspaper and TV-broadcast industries, one news media seems to be doing fairly well: the radio.

    Due to its simplicity and great usefulness when travelling by car, radio across the country are figuring out new ways to deliver their programs through mobile devices which everyone today carries around.

    A successful story in such regards is Stitcher, a free app that has been specifically designed to aggregate the most famous radio programs, giving every user the possibility to create a personalized playlist of favorite radio shows.

    Stitcher originated in San Francisco and was backed by New Atlantic Ventures, a company that defines itself as “an early-stage information technology venture capital fund based in Northern Virginia and Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

    At the moment, Stitcher is only available for the iPhone and for certain Blackberrys, but the company is working to expand its reach.

    The user-friendly interface is very simple and is made up of only six buttons to choose from: Topics, Sources, Favorites, History, Settings and Search.

    The easiest way to memorize one’s favorite stations is to find the desired radio station under the Sources button.

    After a list of radios appears, you can select the radio you prefer and then scroll through the various programs that that radio offers. National Public Radio, for example, has all its most famous programs such as NPR News, Fresh Air and Car Talk, but it also has specifically designed podcasts that deal with different topics such as environment, science and health.

    Once the desired program is found, it can be added to the Favorites list. This way, the program will stay saved on the device. Whenever a new show or podcast are available, you can decide to be alerted by text message or by email. In any case, if a new program is available, a little red box will appear over the Stitcher logo in the mobile device’s main menu showing how many updates are ready to be played among your favorites.

    This app is particularly helpful for today’s journalist because it offers a selective tool that allows the journalist to stay up to date with all the news that matters through a fundamental filtering tool.

    Unfortunately, the app for Blackberry Curve (the one I have) does not always function correctly and often crashes the mobile device’s software. Apparently, the people at Stitcher have realized their latest software for the iPhone also comes with some problems and are currently working on it.

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