With today’s technology, it’s becoming abundantly clear that every reporter should have a mobile reporting kit stashed in his or her car or bag. But what do you put in it?
This past weekend, Columbia School of Journalism hosted its second annual Social Media Weekend. While there, Anjali Mullany, New York Daily News‘s social media editor, filmed this excellent video interview with MSNBC’s Meg Robertson. In it, Robertson details what she has in her mobile reporting kit.
I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of these must-haves Robertson mentions.
1. Smart phone
This is a necessity for mobile reporting. Your phone lets you access email, texts, Twitter, and Facebook, in addition to taking pictures and video. And let’s not forget that it is still a phone. Immediate access to the newsroom or a source.
Whether you are listening to an interview you just recorded or Skyping with your editor, headphones are an absolutely essential piece of gear to have when reporting out in the field. If you get one with a small mic attached, you can also use it to talk on the phone. And it never hurts to carry a spare.
Image courtesy of Flickr user TalAtlas
3. Business cards
While there is an ongoing debate on how useful business cards are, it never hurts to carry a few in your pack. It proves your credentials and is an easy way for sources to get your contact information for future stories.
4. Additional chargers
Since almost everything in this kit requires electricity to power on, the importance of extra chargers cannot be understated. For the iPhone or Android, Mullany recommends buying a Mophie to extend battery power.
5. Wi-Fi cards
Mobile reporting is dependent on having an Internet connection. You can’t upload all the great stories and videos your creating without it. Yet, as we all know, wireless Internet can be touch and go at spots. Make sure you always are connected with a Wi-Fi card. All of the major service providers carry them. You could also try Eye-Fi, a Wi-Fi and SD card in one.
6. Extra SD cards
When you’re filming video, writing stories, and taking photos, your memory card will fill up. Fast. Especially if a lot of this content is coming from your smart phone. Be prepared with an extra SD card. You can get one at a store like Best Buy or online.
7. A case to hold it all
Now that you have your kit together, you’ll need something to hold it all in one place. Something sturdy enough to not break when your drop your bag on the ground but slim enough that it doesn’t take up a ton of space.
8. USB microphone
Eliminate bad audio with a USB mic. You can turn any interview into a podcast with these handy, small tools, adding a nice multimedia feature to your story. MSNBC’s Meg Robertson recommends Samson’s Meteor Mic, which retails for around $99. If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper alternative, take a look at the Samson Go Mic — a steal at $40. Both received pretty good reviews on Amazon.
9. Mini first aid kit
You never know what ailments you’ll get while out doing a story, so take some precautions and have some basic medical supplies on hand. Visine drops will make you look wide awake if you’ve been up all night, Tylenol will soothe any headaches, and it’s always good to have a Band-Aid or two on you.
10. Point and shoot camera
This one falls under personal preferences, IMHO. Robertson has a Powershot S95 from Canon in her kit but for many, a good smart phone will suffice. An iPhone can take video and pictures of pretty good quality and resolution. If you take better pictures/video with a point and shoot, then definitely add it to the pack.
What’s in your mobile reporting kit? Anything missing from this list?
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