MoJo

MoJo is a contraction of mobile journalism. In recent years Stephen Quinn has trained journalists, citizens and students in 19 countries to make high-quality videos with only an iOS device. Most courses are repeated each year. Clients have included China Daily and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, the Philippines Daily Inquirer, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), the Foreign Press Association in London, Birmingham City University’s post-graduate journalism program (UK), Coventry University’s journalism course (UK), G.D. Goenka University (India), the Leon, Spain, campus of Washington University (USA), City University (London), PressTV (Iran), the Commonwealth Press Association (Malta), Beijing Foreign Studies University, Kristiania University and OsloMet (Norway) and Pearl Academy (India).

Email Stephen Quinn if you would like to talk about mojo training: sraquinn (at) gmail (dot) com. Examples of Dr Quinn’s mojo work can be found at his YouTube site and his Vimeo site. Dr Quinn focuses on using only an iPhone and a handful of apps.

The photo below shows Dr Quinn’s full kit. It consists of a Manfrotto monopod (top of photo), with a collapsable tripod built into the base. The second row shows (from left) an iPhone 8+, a Rode SmartLav+ lapel microphone, a TelMe wireless mic, a Rode VideoMicro shotgun mic with deadcat, and two wireless storage devices: an AirStash (16Gb but you can insert an SD card up to 64Gb) and a SanDisk Connect Stick (128Gb).

The third row shows (from left) a CaseLogic case for holding bits and pieces. Items in the case include spare batteries, an extension cable for the Rode microphone, and a Rode SC6 plug for connecting headphones so I can monitor sound quality when doing interviews. Next to that is a Shoulderpod grip for connecting my iPhone to a tripod, and at bottom right a SmartGun tripod mount. Not shown: a recharge device for the iPhone.

mojo kit 2017

More grips and cradles can be found at the ALM site. Their microphones section is most helpful. Cam Caddie makes a cool device called a Scorpion that helps you get stable images even when moving, such as on a skateboard. Here is a video about the device. I sometimes use an Feiyu SPG gimbal for getting stable shots when on the move.

With experience it is possible to be a mojo with a simple kit consisting of an iPhone, a microphone with a wind sock and a file storage device (SanDisk Connect Stick) for backup (total cost about £800; see the “essential mojo kit” photograph below).

Recent recommendations
“Stephen Quinn organised such an interesting and informative workshop that it inspired all of us in the department to contribute in our own small ways to journalism with this small tool – mobile phone – always in our bags. Quinn shared several quick editing tools, tips to reduce ambient noise and add music. In his workshop with students, Quinn started his session with how to tell compelling stories with smartphones. Students realised the potential of their smartphone and how it could be used as a professional news-gathering device.” Meha Jayaswal, Head of Department, School of Media, Pearl Academy, by email 11 February 2019.

“Just wanted to convey our network’s sincere gratitude for your kind gesture and hope to witness more of your impressive performance in the future.” Hamed Naderian, news editor at PressTV in Tehran, Iran, August 2018.

“Stephen delivered a superb workshop, informative, useful and engaging. There was just the right balance of essential information and instruction without overloading students, delivered alongside plenty of practice to cement learning and make it fun for students – who were by the end of the day making some impressive first attempts at mobile video journalism. The perfect kick off to their own learning and exploration. In addition, Stephen is well versed not just in the latest equipment but also in terms of current industry trends and there was extra value in being able to have some discussion on these points, such as insights into the new Facebook ‘Watch’ platform. We’d love to have you back nest year!” Sharron Lovell, director, MA in Multi-Media Journalism, Beijing Foreign Studies University, October 2017.

“I have invited Stephen Quinn to deliver a special mobile journalism masterclass for the past three years at Birmingham City University. Dr Quinn is an acknowledged global expert in this field and the skills covered in his classes are important to a range of fields. Students from a range of disciplines including MA and BA courses in journalism, television production and radio were all invited to attend. Students who attended overwhelmingly commented on the transformatory and inspirational nature of the experience, with many choosing to continue working in the field afterwards. I would recommend Stephen highly.” Paul Bradshaw, Course leader, MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism, Birmingham City University, by email, November 2017.

“Professor Stephen Quinn presented a MOJO training course to my University of Washington (Seattle) journalism and political communications students on October 10, 2017 at the UW Study Center in León, Spain. http://depts.washington.edu/leonctr/  Dr. Quinn’s talk was inspirational, informational and practical. He illustrated the extraordinary power of the iPhone as tool of visual story-telling, but made learning how to use the tool easy and fun for the students. After Dr. Quinn’s presentation I gave my students a video assignment using their phones and his instructions, and they all produced surprisingly high-quality work. Our students found Dr. Quinn’s presentation style engaging and eloquent. We would be happy to have him return to give more classes any time.” Katie King, University of Washington, León, Spain.

“I would like to ask you for a short interview about [the] future of mobile journalism [in your capacity] as an expert on mobile journalism. Me and my colleagues are planning a debate about mobile journalism with students on 22 March 2017 in Skopje. Your books about Mojo are very useful for us as a journalists in Macedonia and it will be a great honour if you accept to participate in our debate through Skype.” Sanja Vasik, Editor TV Telma, Skopje, March 2017.

“I thought your session was insightful … despite knowing the iPhone well, I actually hadn’t considered it a tool for producing content as much as a mobile office for contacting people and writing content.” Samuel Gould, post-graduate journalism student, Birmingham City University, February 2017.

mojo quinn

Stephen Quinn doing an interview

“You were a great hit … participants found your workshop extremely rewarding.” Professor Sunil Saxena, Dean, School of Communication, G.D. Goenka University, Gurgaon in India. I taught a course for 21 newspaper journalists in April 2016.

“I found the course’s strength was the hands-on aspect – getting to grips with iMovie early on, and then the gradually introduction of different elements and skills.” Joe Norman, freelance journalist based in Birmingham, April 2016.

Best resources
Mojo master Dr Ivo Burum’s SmartMojo site is one of the best single places to discover more about about mojo. Here is a video he made about selecting the best microphone; the choice depends on what you are aiming to do. And here is a link to an excellent all-purpose Rode mic. We have written a book together, published by Focal Press in Boston in September 2015. Here is a link to Amazon USA where you can buy MOJO: The Mobile Journalism Handbook. And here is a link to Amazon UK.

This video shows how Tunisians have embraced mojo in recent years.

The MojoCon Facebook site, with more than 4,000 members, is an excellent place for sharing and finding information about mojo. It originated from the annual mojo conference held in Ireland each May. The first was in 2015.

basic mojo.jpg

Quinn’s essential mojo kit

Listen to an interview with Stephen Quinn about mojo at the Multimedia Week podcast site, broadcast on 9 May 2016. His most basic kit, shown left, consists of an iPhone 8+, a Rode SmartLav+ mic, and a SanDisk memory stick.

Dr Mu Lin provides the anatomy of a mojo story using the work of RTE journalist Phillip Bromwell and one of the first stories on RTE made with only an iPhone.

Stephen Quinn maintains a Facebook group called GlobalMojo where he provides useful links about mojo developments and equipment. Details of his university mojo teaching are elsewhere on this site at Video1.

Watch a Facebook Live interview Francesco Facchini (ItalianMojo) did with Stephen Quinn in Brescia in Italy on 14 November 2017 here.

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Checklist: Questions to ask when working as a mojo

The French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir said that creativity begins with imitation. “I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Use this checklist when preparing a mojo story.

Planning / research
What is my story? Its duration?
Can I submit before deadline?
Arranged interviews (minimum 2)?
Does my video need a map?
iPhone charged? (recharge device?)
Other gear? (tripod? mic? iPhone case? notebook and pen? storage device?)
Space on iPhone?
Directions to location?
Pre-written context story?

Filming on location
Great opening / establishing shot? (sign / logo / visually interesting?)
Quality stills and video?
Sound clear and consistent?
Closing shot? (visually interesting?)
Business cards of interviewees?
Piece to camera? (good location?)
Money shots? (unusual angles; cool images)?

Editing (on location)
Great opening image?
Cutaways appropriate?
Duration between 60-80 seconds?
Background music appropriate?
Free of copyright issues?
Ethically sound?
Legally healthy?

Narration / sound
Consistent sound levels?
Script clean and easy to read?
Have I written to pictures (also known as “writing off”)

Headline / captions
Animation/GIF title to start?
Punchy headline?
Credits at end?
All interviewees identified?

Upload
Saved to camera roll?
Put on YouTube?
Link submitted to FB and Twitter?
Uses the “simple” template?

Afterwards
Have I deleted crap from my iPhone?
Have I celebrated my achievement?

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Useful iPhone apps for reporting
All are free unless a price appears in brackets after the name of the app.

Utilities

  • Voice Memos (record music; send to iMovie)
  • Clock: know when to call in different time zones
  • Calculator: for calculating your expenses
  • Weather: know when to bring a brolly when filming
  • Compass for navigation
  • Google Maps (directions/navigation)
  • Wi-Fi Finder (locate free wifi services)

ProPrompter: One option is to write your script in a word processor, email to self and copy/paste into this app so you can read it in the field. Not always easy to do or anticipate.
Dragon Dictation: Useful for voice recognition, but you need to train the app to your voice, which takes about six or seven trial runs.
Skype: If you have a good wi-fi or Internet connection you can make calls around the world from your phone for free.
BCR Pro (business card reader) photographs then scans your business cards and saves them in the iPhone’s Contacts area, along with a copy of the photo.
SpeedTest: Check the upload, download and ping speeds when on location, prior to uploading a video to your company server or YouTube/Vimeo. Also useful if you plan to use Skype to interview someone.
Hindenburg Lite and Twisted Wave are useful audio recording apps. Hindenburg Pro costs about $US 25, or £15.
Long Expo is good for taking time exposure photographs.
Spending is a free app for doing simple budgets. Can create charts for overview of spending trends.
Legend (79p) and Gravie (£1.49) are good for doing animated graphics such as headlines.
Telegram is the best of the messaging apps, and allows you to send very large files for free.
Retouch (about $1.49) lets you improve photos by erasing parts of the photo such as telephone lines or tree branches. Use with due ethical diligence.

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