Knight Center
Knight Center


5 apps every journalist should have on his/her smartphone

For Robert Hernandez, a smartphone is perhaps the most important piece of equipment a journalist can have these days.

“They’re photo cameras, video cameras, microphones, your type writer, and your content management and publishing system -- all in your back pocket,” said Hernandez, an assistant professor in the School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and a veteran digital journalist. Hernandez was the instructor of a two-hour webinar in Spanish, “Journalism + Mobile,” which was offered by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas on Tuesday Oct. 23.

To start in your voyage into the mobile era, Hernandez suggested five types of apps every journalist should try to have on his or her smartphone:

1. An app to save and access your information from any place. For the journalist in constant movement – who is working with several types of equipment and from different work stations – Hernandez said it is important to have tools that allow you to save data and access it from anywhere you are.

Hernandez said there are plenty of phone apps for that purpose, but he uses Evernote, which allows you to upload notes, PDFs, audio files and images to the cloud. Evernote can be synched with all of your devices – from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets – and is compatible with every browser.

2. An app for photo-editing. According to Hernandez, journalists working in the field should increasingly take on the responsibility of not only taking pictures, but also cleaning them up before submittal.

“Your photo has to be as close to publishing as possible,” he said.

To that end, Hernandez suggested an app in which you can crop, adjust the brightness and make other types of adjustments. Hernandez said there are a great deal of options but he uses the mobile version of Adobe Photoshop, simply because that’s the image-editing tool he uses on his desktop.

3. An app to manage your social networks. Hernandez said it is important to keep constantly connected to your social networks, either to send updates or check on your news feeds.

Using Twitter as an example, Hernandez said there are also several apps to help you manage one or several accounts – including many free ones – but when choosing one, you should look for four attributes: that it’s easy to see what’s new in your feed, that it’s easy to search for information, that it’s easy to publish photos, links and other updates, and that it’s easy to receive alerts when someone mentions you in a tweet or sends you a direct message.

Hernandez uses Echofon, he said, for its design, easy navigation and quick uploading, but pointed out that the decision is entirely a matter of personal taste. The important thing is to have one.

4. An app to access your content management system. Hernandez did not recommend a specific app since each media outlet and independent journalist uses a wide range of different content management systems, WordPress being one of the most common ones. You should find out which apps exist to access your particular CMS from your smartphone with the purpose of being able to create, edit, publish content and, in some cases, share and discuss it with your editors.

Hernandez said it may not be necessary to download a phone app for this since many of these programs can be accessed from any web browser.

5. An app for live streaming. Apps like Ustream has made it extremely easy to shoot video and upload it to a website from your smartphone, Hernandez said.

“There are other applications out there that allow you to capture video and upload it but Ustream is simple and solid. It allows you to use your smartphone for a live stream without needing a live truck or special equipment,” he said.

These apps are barely the tip of the iceberg, Hernandez said. On his seminar, Hernandez talked about other new mobile technologies like tools to capture panoramic images, create interactive maps and prepare augmented reality presentations. Hernandez's PowerPoint presentation can be seen above.

“This is a growing and emerging place that will clearly become a stanrdard in our journalistic field,” he said.

Follow Hernandez on Twitter @webjournalist.


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