Thanks to the era of smartphones and other mobile devices, anyone can now play citizen journalist and produce all kinds of extraordinary stories that used to be the domain of professional journalists and documentary makers.
"The collective arena is a hive of creativity," said documentary pioneer Molly Dineen, who praised technological developments as adding a richer dimension to current affairs and factual documentaries. "It should add to what traditional documentary makers are doing and not take away."
In fact, ordinary citizens are not the only ones who benefit from this trend, but current affairs as well. Chris Shaw, editorial director of ITN Productions, also thinks that social networks are opening opportunities for documentary filmmakers. "You can make the most amazing films using content from social networks, sometimes with the permission and sometimes without the permission of people who shot them."
And being a citizen journalist is simple for people with something as small as a smartphone, as new mobile technologies help open up new possibilities for filmmaking and storytelling. But more than videos, perhaps the simplest way to break the news online is through audio journalism.
Recording audio is less intrusive than video recording. It is also easier to edit because of its pretty linear structure. And unlike video, one can listen to audio while doing other things, such as doing household chores, exercising, or driving a car.
According to "The Infinite Dial 2014" by Edison Research and Triton Digital, around 124 million Americans listen to online radio in a given month. But the biggest jump was audio in cars, as online radio listening in a car via cell phone continues to steadily increase, from 21 percent last 2013 to 26 percent this year.
Hence, the rising figures explain why audio journalism is changing the face of journalism in general. According to podcast expert Andrew Dubber, audio makes one feel the actuality of the situation. Being an intimate medium, audio journalism transports listeners to the news scene without having to leave one's comfort zone. The tone of voice of the audio journalist also conveys emotions more than words alone. But most of all, it is convenient, as podcasting makes it easier for citizen journalists to distribute their content over a given platform.
One of the most popular audio tools that one can download is SoundCloud, which is basically a social media platform that used to offer music only before branching out to the realm of spoken word audio in order to tap the potential of audio journalism.
There is also Audioboom Group PLC (AIM: BOOM), which lets one record short clips and share them on social media and Audioboom's website. The company's primary focus is news aggregation, as it has partnered with more than 2,000 news and sports and channels, including The Guardian and Sky Sports, in order to deliver content across various platforms. This is certainly one company that knows the climate of audio journalism.
While there are still a lot to explore when it comes to the new developments in journalism, these radical practices are keeping journalism alive as it now evolves to include the listener-slash-reader-slash-viewer in news creation.