5 iPhone Apps No Journo Should Be Without

Reporting with the iPhoneIt’s no secret times are changing. Now more than ever the power to report lies in the palm of your hand. The catch? It’s up to you to get the most out of your mobile device.

The New York Times made headlines when it announced it would be equipping new hires with iPhone 4′s to shoot video in the field.

Unfortunately we still live in a time defined by operating systems. What works on an iPhone won’t necessarily work on an Android phone.

Sad but true, a lot of simple questions don’t have simple answers. So here’s a rundown of our top 5 iPhone apps no journalist should be without.

 

Qik Video Pro $1.99

The biggest story of the century is in the making and you’re caught at the grocery store with your pants down. What do you do?

Fortunately, with Qik Video Pro set up, it’s little more than a flip of a button to stream live video to the web. You don’t even need WiFi. With a little foresight you can even stream to an embedded video player on, say, your companies front page.

The Qik website is pretty straight forward, but if you want a step-by-step to get your live stream on the air I wrote a quick and easy how-to a few months back.

 

VC Audio Pro $5.99

iPhone reporter Neil Augenstein swears by it – and I don’t blame him. This handy dandy little add-on handles (pretty much) all of your audio needs. Edit, splice, combine, overlay, export.

At $5.99 it’s the most expensive tool in my toolbox, but also one of the most valuable.

 

ReelDirector (or iMovie) $1.99 ($4.99)

I’ve heard great things about iMovie, but honestly I can’t vouche for it. The problem? iMovie only works on the iPhone 4. Bad for me, possibly good for you.

ReelDirector, on the other hand, works on both 3G and 3Gs phones. Great news for me.

It’s not Final Cut, but in a pinch ReelDirector can deliver enough flexibility to push out some valuable (and coherent) news clips.

The biggest drawback is the relatively large gap between splices. The app rounds up to the nearest second. So if you’re trying to cut a clip at say 2:76 you best be happy with 3:00.

 

CallRec.me Free, but recording minutes cost

Audio recorders like VC Audio Pro are great, but how do you record a phone interview? Meet an easy question without and easy (or cheap) answer.

CallRec.me may be free to download, but thanks to cell phone terms of service (and perhaps the need for a paycheck for the app designers) recorded conversations can cost you plenty. That’s right, you have to purchase minutes – U.S. or international – in advance.

What’s more, a quick look at CallRec.me in Apple’s App Store shows less than stellar reviews. Personally I’ve never had to use the app, but keep it in the toolbox just in case.

Another option may be Google Voice, but after hours of confusion I gave up the effort. Google Voice worked fine even though it annoyingly forced me to redirect my voicemail, but the call recording functionality eluded me even after reading numerous, seemingly simple how-to posts like this one.

 

Hootsuite Free

Let’s keep it simple (i.e. all in one app).

Social media has (and continues) to reshape the practice of journalism. Don’t get caught without a way to quickly and easily share the information you have.

Tweeting the revolution, NPR’s senior strategist Andy Carvin proved it’s time to rethink how we measure impact on the world wide web. No longer can newsrooms and reporters stick strictly to site stats to measure their reach.

Hootsuite simply allows you to wrangle all of your social accounts (and all the corresponding apps) into a single location. What’s more, the app also allows you to track click-thrus and other metrics through the integrated Ow.ly URL shortener.

Thankfully Hootsuite has a free version, but if you’re trying to add more than three accounts you may not be too happy with it. Then again there’s always payment plans.

 

In the end the iPhone can be a valuable reporting tool when used right. While it’s possible to report with just an iPhone there are still some obvious drawbacks:

- The built in mic is a little touchy when it comes to sound levels
- Less than ideal FTP setup
- Relatively short battery life, especially when shooting/editing
- Kind of small and tedious for larger works

Then again you can always play Angry Birds to pass the dull moments.

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