Working that MoJo

As a young broadcaster in the making, I would be lying if I said I had absolutely no interest in the wonderful world of tech. Although it is not a requisite and we’re all more than welcome to stick to ye old sword and shield of the journalism world…One might find that mixing up your MoJo is just that much more interesting.

‘MoJo’ or Mobile Journalism is the new kid on the block that seems to have enough of a sphere of haters and lovers that it is sure not to go away anytime soon. It’s kind of like that preppy new kid that you’re not sure if you like or hate but want to get to know either way. As the spawn of the 21st Century, we are all somewhat literate in using a mobile device to do anything from shoot a clip, record a song, take notes or have a makeshift weapon all in the palm of our hands.

As journalism by nature is a mobile profession – meaning we move around to get the job done – it becomes convenient to have a notepad, camera, recorder and more all in one. We are able to capture all angles from a single angle and in this way find the best, and most interesting way to give an alternative aspect to an age old tradition.

The old noisy newsroom called for a bunch of individuals in hats with waaay too many coffee mugs and cigarette butts to scream and shout what we’d be reading after tomorrows morning press run. The new quiet space lets go of that (and unfortunately some of us), but the convenience of electronic versus traditional brings the opportunity to be just that much more ingenuous and take that thinking further out the box than we have seen before.

Steve Jobs described a computer as a bicycle for the mind, and if learning how to ride a bike is something you never forget, then we journo’s have nothing to fear in terms of where our lil world is going. There have thus far been five revolutions of MoJo – Starting from hard copy, the Gutenberg Press (thanks Germany), Television (does happy dance), The Internet and now Mobile. All the stages, past and present, have enabled equally revolutionary ways for stories to be told. We are no longer restricted to what we can cover on the ground and within certain borders. We are live, at anytime, and at any place.

I’m not sure if my excitement is showing yet, but it is incredibly exciting to think of the literal and metaphorical borders we can cross these days in order to get the job done. At the same time, it is not simply about the job, but also the veritas and gravitas that comes with it.

Again, us new-age babies are more than aware of the power of social networks and how this has changed the face of journalism. For starters, it’s not restricted to the chaps with hats, cigarettes, coffee mugs (and pens), but rather anyone and everyone that is semi-literate to the notion of tweeting, typing, texting and calling.

Citizen journalist: a term I use with a slight apprehension, describes exactly what I mean by anyone and everyone. It’s good in the sense that everything becomes more immediate and highlights issues that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, but it’s also not so great for those of us that actually need the jobs and aren’t as concerned about the pack of stray cats leaving trails of litter behind them in a Roodepoort suburb.

This idea of convergence makes thinking of the future of journalism a slightly scary thought. What happens when one of the most powerful social sights becomes the most efficient and fast source for news distribution? When its not about who has said it, but where and when you heard it, how do we as journalists hold onto our veritas, gravitas and remain relevant? How do we tell the already sceptical reader to approach the news they are finally paying attention to, to do so with a bit of caution?

It is moments like these that make me think back to the days of my youth (Not as old as you think). I think we can all go back to a moment where teams of some kind where being chosen and we each had the fear of being picked last. I will remind you of my height being a staggering 1.53m and then ask you to think how often you think I got picked closer to the start of the games than the end? I am proud to say, that more often than not, I wasn’t last, or even picked towards the end. I can’t say it wasn’t my charm that did the trick, but I can say that it never boiled down to being the biggest and most athletic person around. It was sometimes just about being able to maneuver in the right way that I’d get the ball before my opponent. Sometimes, I was just able to run between legs faster and thus had an advantage over all the tall people. My point is, its not necessarily about having the fanciest camera/movie-maker/recorder around. We sometimes just need to be faster than those better than us, and better than anyone faster than us. In doing this, I think we’re able to hold onto the title of journo just that much longer before this digital world gives it up to everyone for good.

I can’t say I’m unaware of the difficulty that comes with this profession being as mobile as it is, but I can say it somewhat allows it to be just that much more interesting. Everyday is a challenge, but one we signed up for, and if like me you enjoy the challenge then let us continue to shake up our MoJo til the job is done.


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