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How friction-less technology is giving newsgatherers their freedom back

Stuart Almond, Head of Marketing and Communications, Media Solutions at Sony Professional Solutions Europe, investigates

With the current lightning-fast news cycle and decline in press freedom, it’s more critical than ever for news broadcasters’ field journalists to be able to create stories without barriers.

This starts with friction-less technology.

The evolution of news

Looking back through history, technology has changed the face of journalism. In 1800, the first hand-operated printing press producing newspapers kickstarted mass communication. During the nineteenth century this accelerated when the harnessing of electricity and the introduction of the telegraphy enabled newspaper publishers to collect and share information faster than ever before.

Now, fast forwarding 150 years, we find ourselves in a digital age where the Internet and mobile technologies have reached a zenith. The popularity and availability of smartphones, laptops and ever-increasing bandwidth has made it even more possible to find, capture, compile, edit and file or transmit stories from almost anyone and anywhere in the world. Real-time journalism is a real and accelerating paradigm.

But with global press freedom declining to its lowest point in 13 years according to the 2017 Freedom of the Press report, there are unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies and new moves by authoritarian states to control the media, including beyond their borders. Despite what we might think, editorial constraints worldwide are rife, with only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoying a free press and a media environment where coverage of political news is robust and where the safety of journalists is guaranteed.

Vying for attention

Not only are newsgatherers battling for freedom. In an era of ‘fake news’ they also face an uphill battle to capture the attention of viewers who are inundated with information and content in an ever-expanding mass of media. The latest finding by the Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed that a third of people (of more than 70,000 consumers polled across 36 countries) claimed they don’t feel they can rely on the news to be true.

As fake news has been found to reach more people and spread six times faster than real news (MIT), staying ahead of the curve to share stories as they break and disseminating fact as quickly as possible to cut through the noise is more critical than ever.

In the sixth annual Digital News Report, lead author Nick Newman claimed that “fake news could be the best thing that has happened to journalism in a long while. It’s an opportunity to re-establish the value of mainstream brands and focus on quality.” I have a feeling he may just be right.

Transformative tech

In this current climate, technology is part of this re-established value. Frictionless tech can empower news organisations to become truly story-centric by enabling stories to be captured, shared and accessed 24/7 and accessible from anywhere.

Out in the field, journalists need to be able to report without technological restraints; they need equipment that allows them to create and instantly share information with news rooms. This means access to cameras or smartphones that are easy to use, microphones that record without interruption and editing tools as well as news production technology, like Media Backbone Hive, that can be used anywhere. After all, being a field journalist, you do not want to be tied to a desk.

With technologies like Hive letting online, TV and radio news teams access shared content from anywhere at any time, news organisations can free up their journalists to produce more content (and a wider breath of content), quickly and easily from anywhere in the world – wherever political and editorial restraints will allow.

However, for a TV news broadcaster, and in fact any journalist or news-producing outlet, time is a challenge in itself. There is never enough of it and a deadline is always looming. Before the arrival of the internet, deadlines made the news world go around, but in the 24/7 world of live blogging and social media, every minute of every day is a deadline. Broadcasters now grapple with creating compelling content, in less time, with the same amount of people, and being first with the story.

With news becoming more time-critical than ever, newsroom systems are undergoing a period of continual advancement. Journalists can quickly search the entire newsroom system to find what they need, either archived content or material arriving right at that moment – diminishing editorial constraints and giving journalists freedom to share news quickly.

This all starts and ends with friction-less technology to give newsgatherers their freedom back to create and share stories without any barriers. Ultimately getting ahead of the curve to get news out there in real-time.