“People were participating in our coverage in a way that we had never seen before. By the next day, our main evening TV newscast began with a package edited entirely from video sent in by viewers. From now on news coverage is a partnership” commented Richard Sambrook, a journalist at the BBC after witnesses of the 2005 London bombings sent a thousand photographs, 4000 text messages, and 20 000 emails to be broadcasted by the channel.
This single event gives us a hint of how the emergence of digital technology is revolutionizing traditional models of journalism. Reporting toolkits are becoming more affordable and miniaturized, going from heavy and expensive professional video cameras to massively produced mobile phones. There are now over 15 billion mobile devices in the world that are not only used to consume news but have also been adapted to create content. Events such as the London and Madrid bombings, the 2003 Iraq invasion, and the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia sparked a new form of journalism devoted to human experiences and community issues, and produced with resources readily available to the general public.
Active digital communities embrace mobile technology as a means of producing content. Since its introduction in the mid-1990s, the capability of mobile phone cameras continues to develop. Picture and sound quality are gradually perfected to streamline user experience, but also encourage more professional news production. Mobile phones are practical as they can be carried seamlessly in a pocket and easily operated without previous training. This trait comes in handy when covering unexpected events where accessibility for traditional camera crews is challenging, and mobilization to the scene is slow.