Mobile journalism on the rise in South East Europe

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In Western Europe mobile journalism (MoJo) has developed out of a trend to a common journalistic practice. This is still not the case in South East Europe, but the region is on its way to establish mobile reporting as a part of the daily journalism work. 

More and more young journalists are using MoJo as an alternative to traditional production practices. Back in 2013 the former Bulgarian blogger Ivo Bozhkov has already set the trend by livestream-reporting about the happenings surrounding the protests against the Oresharski Cabinet. His role was considered outstanding, as he reported live what was happening, while the traditional media were accused of being biased. For his video contributions during these protests, Bozhkov has received the title “Man of the Year 2013”, an award of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), given for significant protection of human rights. 

In South East Europe, the media are often criticized for being prejudiced and for allowing pressure and influence on them by politicians and media owners. As a result, the trust of civil society in the media outlets with nationwide coverage, has been extremely weakened. In this context MoJo has been used by the journalists, and especially by those of smaller media outlets, as an advantageous way of producing journalistic pieces which are reliable and objective.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Serbia, for example, livestream with the smartphone is indeed sometimes the only chance for journalists to report on government proceedings and other public events, while politicians are denying to give interviews and statements to the media. 

In the mainstream media, journalists often find no breeding ground and no support to pursue their role as watchdog of the society. That is why independent reporting with the help of MoJo, the internet and social media create a platform for journalists who are aware of their role and can work without any censorship. Therefore, MoJo has proven to be very useful for investigative journalists in South East Europe and is being practiced more and more often. But not only investigative journalists benefit from MoJo, also citizen journalism do. In the short video below the Executive Director of the Albanian “Citizens Channel” and MoJo enthusiast Lorin Kadiu is showing how he uses MoJo and its benefits for citizen journalism.

The popularity of MoJo’s is also linked to the ongoing development of the wireless internet access technologies.  In South East Europe, a number of special aspects can be noted in terms of network connectivity and capability. Basically, there is a profound gap between rural regions and big cities. Romania and Bulgaria, for example, score particularly high in regard to broadband expansion and rank among the top countries worldwide. Тhe majority of the population there has an extremely high transmission speed which is also beneficial for reporting and producing with the smartphone. On the other hand, there are still regions that have no internet access at all, which means that regional media and journalists can hardly compete with their colleagues in the urban areas.

The accessibility for everyone to this technology and to all online platforms and networks, means that not only the media can use MoJo as an effective reporting tool, but also that citizens are given this opportunity. However, at this point, a distinction must be made between quality journalism and the spread of user-generated content. Mobile journalism has its specific aspects of production and should be trained. High-quality content can only be produced with the smartphone when one is equipped with the necessary professional skills and knowledge. That is, why, the Media Programme South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), in cooperation with partners such as Deutsche Welle, is providing MoJo trainings for young journalists from the region. Apart from imparting know-how about the production of high-quality videos, the workshops also focus on the ethical and legal aspects of mobile reporting.

Below you can gain impressions of our last workshop on mobile reporting in cooperation with Deutsche Welle in Sarajevo.

About the author

Hendrik Sittig

Director KAS Media Programme South East Europe, Sofia