All You Want To Know About SMS, But Were Afraid To Ask. Here's Your Chance.

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Nov 02, 2011

PBS MediaShift is hosting a live chat on Twitter about the use of SMS technology by journalists, news organizations, radio shows and more around the world. In many developing nations Internet access is less prevalent, and the main means of interaction is with mobile phones and SMS. Many projects are using SMS to help connect communities to important news and information, and to create a feedback loop for programs.

The chat takes place on Nov. 2 at 10:30 am PT/1:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CET, hashtag #SMSChat.

MediaShift's executive editor Mark Glaser (@mediatwit) will be moderating the live Twitter chat on SMS use, with these special guests:

  • Melissa Ulbricht: and the Mobile Media Toolkit (@MobileMediaKit)
  • Sean McDonald: FrontlineSMS (@McDapper)
  • Zach Peterson: Radio Free Europe/Radio Azadi (@zachprague)

How to follow the discussion:

To follow the discussion, please log on to Twitter and search for the #SMSchat hashtag. Glaser will be sending out questions to the guests and audience in the format of Q1, Q2, Q3, and if you want to answer them, please reply with the Q number as well as the hashtag #SMSchat. All participants will need to use the hashtag in every tweet so we can see that as part of the discussion stream.

The discussion will be archived on PBS Idea Lab on Thursday using Storify.

Help us spread the word! We'll make it easy:

If you'd like to tweet about the chat please use this language or something similar: Live Twitter chat about SMS and journalism, with @mediatwit, @MobileMediaKit, @McDapper, @zachprague, 11/2 at 10:30 am PT at #SMSchat

Swing Over to the Mobile Media Toolkit

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Oct 21, 2011

The Mobile Media Toolkit is a new resource site with lots of content about how mobile tech can be used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media.

The Toolkit content is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and we are translating into Russian as well. We've been adding lots of helpful new content since our launch a few months ago. Here is a sampling: 

NEW How-To Guides:  The latest is on how to use Bambuzer to live stream content and engage with audiences. Michelle Li of WECT tells us how her newsroom uses Bambuser to share live video and engage with viewers. (And lets us in on what news anchors talk about, off-camera.) Check out the complete guide here.

NEW Case studies, for instance on how to use SMS and radio to engage with listeners in Uganda. No Internet? No problem. Using a new tool called TRAC FM, stations are able to poll listeners via SMS and share the results over the radio. Read the full case study here.

TIPS for the Mobile Journalist, (aka MoJo) such as this video on how to shoot and transfer content from a mobile phone to a tablet using basic hardware and software. For more, check out the Toolkit section on Creating Content (and getting it off) your mobile phone.

Mobiles: The Hub of a Global Information Society

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Sep 30, 2011

A new report from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy  “examines questions about how a global information society might look with mobile media devices at its hub.” The report, News on the Go: How Mobile Devices Are Changing the World's Information Ecosystem, is available for download here.

According to the report, at the end of 2010, more than 4 billion people paid for mobile serivce. By the end of this year, about 5 billion mobile phones will be in service in a world with 7 billion people. The report suggests that the implications of so many people having access to phones are many: for politics, for education, for economies, for civil society, and for news and information. 

While it offers several examples of mobile case studies in these various issue areas, the report focuses primarily on the growth of mobile Internet, and, hence, high-end smart phones over basic feature phones.

At and on the Mobile Media Toolkit, we write often about the role of and potential for the basic feature phone. The CIMA report takes the stance that while 5 billion people will have access to mobile phones, by the end of this year “virtually every phone sold” will be a more high-end device.

Mobile Media Services at Sub-Saharan African Newspapers

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Sep 13, 2011
Mobile Media Services at Sub-Saharan African Newspapers data sheet 1446 Views
Kristina Bürén
Publication Date: 
Aug 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Published by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the African Media Initiative (AMI), this guidebook aims to help African newspapers implement mobile platforms.

Billed as a guidebook, and not a one-size-fits-all rulebook, the guide aims to help Sub-Saharan African news publishers develop and implement mobile services. The report is based on a series of on-site interviews with newspapers in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, including The Observer and the Daily Monitor in Uganda, The Standard and the Daily Nation in Kenya, and Grocott's MailMail & GuardianAvusa Group, and News24.comin South Africa.

See also this blog post with more information on the guidebook.

Making Media Mobile at Sub-Saharan Newspapers

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Aug 09, 2011

A just-published guide from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is all about making media mobile, specifically at newspapers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The full report is available for download here.

Billed as a guidebook, and not a one-size-fits-all rulebook, the guide aims to help Sub-Saharan African news publishers develop and implement mobile services. The report is based on a series of on-site interviews with newspapers in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, including The Observer and the Daily Monitor in Uganda, The Standard and the Daily Nation in Kenya, and Grocott's Mail, Mail & Guardian, Avusa Group, and in South Africa.

Though the primary audience of the guidebook is media managers, there are lessons and tips for anyone interested in the current state of and potential future for mobile print media in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We would have wished that there was a greater focus on online media as the guide is almost entirely focused on print. Given the fast growth of online media outlets in a number of African media markets, this is an unfortunate limitation. 

At the same time, the guide provides a detailed landscape of mobile telephony in Africa, including usage and infrastructure and access points (including SMS, mobile Internet and data, Sim Tool Kit, USSD, voice and interactive voice response). See explanations and examples of these access points in the Mobile Media Toolkit Glossary, here.

Drumroll, please... It's the Mobile Media Toolkit!

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jul 28, 2011

Introducing the Mobile Media Toolkit, the newest project from that is all about Making Media Mobile.

The Mobile Media Toolkit helps you make sense of the growing role of mobile tech in media. The Toolkit provides how-to guides, mobile tools, and case studies on how mobile phones can (and are) being used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media. We cover it all, from basic feature phones to the latest smartphone applications.

It's an exciting day for us here at as we launch the Mobile Media Toolkit. For the last year we have been interviewing people, researching projects, and testing tools, to bring you this free resource. It is designed to help you evaluate and effectively deploy the right tools for reporting and sharing content on and to mobile devices.

Please visit the Toolkit. Share it with others. Add to it! It's available in English, Spanish, and Arabic.  So, please join us and say Welcome, Bienvenidos, and مرحبا to the Mobile Media Toolkit!

Join the Conversation on Mobiles in Citizen Media

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jul 27, 2011

Join New Tactics in Human Rights, and others for an online dialogue on Using Mobile Phones for Citizen Media. The dialogue is starting tomorrow, and will conclude on August 2nd. 

The conversation takes place here.

With the growing use of mobile phones for citizen media comes new risks, challenges and opportunities. This online dialogue is a space to discuss stories, tactics, and resources for using mobile phones for citizen media, as well as a space to discuss mobile risk assessment and security. Jin the discussion on July 27 to share your stories, ideas and resources!  

You can find more information on how to participate here.

Reports from the Frontline: How Small World News Trains Citizen Journalists and Captures Footage from Libya

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jun 10, 2011
Reports from the Frontline: How Small World News Trains Citizen Journalists and Captures Footage from Libya data sheet 3344 Views

Armed with a few Kodak Zi8 cameras, 6 HTC Wildfire mobile phones, energy, expertise in training citizen journalists, Small World News is working to share stories from Libya with the larger world.

Small World News is on the ground in Benghazi training Libyans to capture and tell video stories of events in this volatile region. Along the way, the team has also captured footage that no other main stream media outlet has been able to get. chatted late last night with Brian Conley, founder of Small World News, to hear how things were going. What we learned is that capturing and sharing stories from Libya is as much about technology as it is about establishing trust and connections with the journalists on the ground.

Small World News and

Small World News is a documentary and new media company that provides tools to journalists and citizens around the world to tell stories about their lives. We wrote about Small World News last when it helped an independent Afghan news agency integrate mobile phones and SMS into news reporting. 

As part of its work in Libya, Small World News captures audio reports from individuals on the ground to broadcast to a larger international audience. It does this via Speak2Tweet, a collaborative project from Google, Twitter, and SayNow, which allows a caller to Tweet by calling a phone number and leaving a voicemail. 

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal is to build an effective and sustainable conduit for content produced by citizens about daily life in Libya that reaches a wider audience.


Brief description of the project: 

Small World News is on the ground in Benghazi training Libyans to capture and tell video stories of events in this volatile region.

Target audience: 

Small World News has a team of about a dozen men and women ranging in age from 16 to 30 years learning how to create video content.

Detailed Information
What worked well? : 

For Small World News, capturing and sharing stories from Libya is as much about technology as it is about establishing trust and connections with the journalists on the ground. The team used platforms like Speak2Tweet and Unviersal Subtitles and also tapped into existing networks of people on the ground.


What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Establishing trust and working in a stressful environment have been ongoing issues. Also, there have been technical challenges. The account for the team’s satellite equipment had not been activated, and they found out that credit had never been applied to it.


The Mobile Minute: Free Android Apps for Journalists, Mapping Indoor Spaces, and Facebook's Lack of Privacy

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 19, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you news about the continuous lack of Facebook privacy, the disagreement between IDC and Nokia on Nokia sales figures in India, a ranking of the top five free Android apps for journalists, a TNS study that found social media trumps e-mail as the most popular use for online mobile activity, and mapping indoor spaces with smartphone apps.

The Mobile Minute: YouTube's Mobile Site, News Orgs' Failure to Capitalize on Apps, and North Korean Mobile Ownership

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 25, 2010

The Mobile Minute is here to bring you news about YouTube's new mobile site, 4G wireless networks in Russia, mobile phone ownership growth in North Korea, apps and the future of news journalism, and the New York Times' look at the growth of the web. 

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Apps and Magazines, Checking the Validity of Medicine via SMS, and Speedy Texting

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 23, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on the Hearst magazine empire's new focus on mobile apps, what can go wrong on your mobile website and how to spot it, a camera phone-to-email project in India, checking African drugs with SMS, and a new speed texting record.

The Mobile Minute: JQuery for Mobile, a New Mobile Magazine, Twitter Usage on the Weekends, and Indian Farmers Going Mobile

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 16, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on how mobiles are helping farmers in India, jquery on mobile, a comparison of patterns between mobile and desktop Twitter usage, and a mobile-only magazine. 

The Mobile Minute: Mobiles + Journalism, an Open-Source Mobile Network, Fundraising with QR Codes

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 13, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute features links on fundraising with QR codes, a survey report on how audiences get information, a breakdown of how journalism is changing due to mobile phones, the announcement of a clearer definition of mobile broadband, an open-source, solar-powered mobile network, and five cross-platform mobile development tools. 

Camera Phone Images, Videos, Live Streaming: A Contemporary Visual Trend

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Jul 09, 2010
Camera Phone Images, Videos, Live Streaming: A Contemporary Visual Trend data sheet 2956 Views
Gaby David
Publication Date: 
Mar 2010
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Writing for a new media review is like writing history as events unfold. In a short time, this article will be out of date and perhaps no more than a few personal 2.0 snapshots taken of a slice of our lives circa 2009. Nevertheless, it is useful to draw a clear picture of how this medium is being used today, to define some of its emerging social properties, and to document and pay closer attention to its influence on our daily experiences and self-mediations. By self-mediations I refer to how each one of us decides his or her digital imprint: what we post online, whether they are videos, photographs, CVs, and the like. Due to the enormous quantity of content produced by users – now usually called prosumers – we should pay close attention to these

My focus will be on how camera phones affect how news is created and shared, reminding us of how closely the concept of ‘newsworthiness’ is linked to immediacy. Then I will briefly compare the camera phone video experience to the cinematic experience and discuss how film narrative and conventions have affected camera use for better or for worse. Finally, I will pose some open questions that touch on the academic and social value of the camera phone images, and on how contextualising them remains a crucial ingredient in all analysis. I will conclude by considering the visual impact that this handheld object is having on our lives and relationships.

The Big Thaw: Charting a New Future for Journalism

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Dec 07, 2009
The Big Thaw: Charting a New Future for Journalism data sheet 2796 Views
Tony Deifell
Publication Date: 
Jun 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

As the business and editorial structures that have historically sustained media melt away, new innovations in reporting and monetization are rapidly reforming the business. But a key question remains: Can media producers adapt and lead, or will they disappear with Journalism’s Ice Age? The Media Consortium (TMC), a network of the country's leading progressive, independent media outlets, commissioned this research and strategy project to ask: Who produces it, what the audience wants, and how they want to consume it. Media organizations must match their production and delivery strategies to new consumer demand, technology and business models.  The research covers three areas: 


  • Vol. 1: Dissonance & Opportunity: Summarizes and outlines a strategic framework that enables independent media to build a shared vision for the future.
  • Vol. 2: New & Emerging Realities: Four main questions are explored. How is the landscape changing? What new capabilities are needed to succeed? What needs can be met, problems solved or desires fulfilled to create value? How are media organizations structured to capture this value?
  • Vol. 3: The Future?: Surfaces key uncertainties to consider and future possibilities that may further change the game in coming years.


Upcoming Funding Opportunities and Contests for Journalists

Posted by PrabhasPokharel on Aug 18, 2009

The Mobile Media Toolkit would like to point out to journalists working everywhere of a few funding opportunities and competitions that are coming up.

A Mobile Voice: The Use of Mobile Phones in Citizen Media

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Nov 12, 2008

We are pleased to release the newest resource, A Mobile Voice: The Use of Mobile Phones in Citizen Media.

In this report we explore the dynamics of the role of mobile phones in enhancing access to and creating information and citizen-produced media.  We explore trends in the use of mobile telephony with a focus on software and platforms that make content creation and broadcasting easier.  We also present an inventory of current and potential uses of
mobile phones to promote citizen media and freedom of information, and present short case studies of examples--all from the community.