Will News TV lose its Mojo with MoJo

25 Jul,2017

 

By A Correspondent

Mobile journalism  isn’t new. In fact mojo, as the craft is called, is said to have orginiated at the Fort Myers News-Press in the United States way back in 2005. There is no rocket science to the craft: journalists move around with handy electronic devices which help them gather, edit and disseminate news and miscellaneous content.

As data speeds increase and connectivity stabilises in India, the usage is bound to increase given high- to medium-end smartphones and the presence of cheaper and efficient 4G connectivity via mobile phones and WiFi-enabling dongles, hotspots and devices.

So why are discussing this today? Because leading news network NDTV has announced a restructuring of its newsroom resources to focus on mobile journalism. The question that’s being asked is: Can MoJos replace the cameraperson?

And some more: Will picture quality suffer because of smartphone photography? Will reporters be distracted by all the camerawork and not do enough of what they are supposed to be doing? Will it hence be a loss for journalism as a whole, even though it may save precious monies.

First, let’s read the NDTV statement on its website:

Like other news broadcasters around the world, NDTV is reorganising its newsroom and resources to focus on mobile journalism. NDTV has always been an early adapter of new technology – and we are the first major network in India whose reporters are all trained in using mobile phones to shoot stories. This is not just about cost-cutting, though that is certainly, for us – like any other responsible business – an important factor in operations. Mobile journalism means reports are lightning-quick and much more efficiently produced – a priority for any news company. After NDTV’s switch to this new model, other news networks in India are now experimenting with similar training.

It would be irresponsible to viewers and to shareholders – as well as archaic – to maintain decades-old templates of how to shoot and edit. NDTV has long been valued for its commitment to its employees – our record on attrition across more than 20 years is testament to this and spoken of across the industry. We have ensured fair compensation for those employees affected by our restructuring.

As not just business models but broadcasting models change and evolve, we need to restructure. This also explains why we were far ahead of other networks in building our digital content and brand – and again, our success has become the playbook for our competitors. This shift in expansion, away from conventional broadcasting and towards digital, is again an international trend and we are showing standout growth in this area. How users consume content is changing – and we cannot ignore that.

Further, in any commercial operation – and especially in one so shaped by the constant modernising of technology – it is essential to play to the strengths of what that technology offers.

The court cases that are an attempt to punish NDTV for its award-winning objective journalism do not influence how we run and operate our newsroom. The emphasis on restructuring is rooted in the broader financial climate, our commitment to controlling costs (our financial statements are available on our site) and, most importantly, our move to consolidate on our core business – quality news content.

 

We aren’t sure if we should take the NDTV statement with a pinch or sackful of salt, but the fact is that it has terminated the services of some staffers given the mojofication.

The number, according to a report in Outlook magazine’s digital version is pegged at 70, but this could eventually be larger, we are told. This follows similar moves in other media companies in the recent and distant past.

In fact, if the NDTV experiment with Mobile Journalism work, it may well be embraced by other news networks, at least those who haven’t done it already.

On the question of how it will impact news journalism remains to be seen. Will MoJo diminish the mojo of news television remains to be seen. There may be some who may argue that news television has long lost it given that the course that content has taken over the last few years. There may be some who may say that news journalism, the way it is ruled today, happens more via in-studio discussions than on-ground reportage.

Be that as it may, MoJo is here to stay and grow.

 

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