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Innovative Move? BBC Develops iPhone App for Field Reporters

The BBC is in the process of creating a new app that would allow its reporters in the field to file photos, audio and video from an iPhone or iPad directly into the news organization’s system. The app would also allow reporters to broadcast live from an iPhone using only a 3G signal, Journalism.co.uk reported earlier today. But is this an innovative move?

Many reporters have already started using their iPhones as reporting tools, which can work well if news breaks while you’re in the field. (We even blogged about essential iPhone apps back in 2008.) In February, The New York Times announced it was equipping its journalists with the iPhone 4 so they could shoot video for stories. These types of tools also come in handy when you’re in a pinch. Bianca Vazquez Toness, a reporter for Boston-based public radio station WBUR, went on an important interview and forgot all of her recording equipment. She ended up using her iPhone, bought the app Report-IT Live and saved her story.

The BBC app should go live within a month. Martin Turner, BBC’s head of operations for newsgathering, told Journalism.co.uk that BBC reporters have been using smart phones to report news for a while but this app is a “significant development.” “Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them,” he said.

A big difference with this app is it connects directly to the BBC system. There aren’t too many details available on how that will work, however, so it’s unclear how or why this would make the quality much better. The one truly significant benefit I can see is broadcasting live from an iPhone, using just a 3G signal. Reporters could broadcast from any where the signal is available and not need WiFi or tons of equipment.

What do you think? Is this move by the BBC on the cutting edge or have other news organizations already implemented a similar system? Let us know on Twitter @10000words or @elanazak or in the comments section below.

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