WTOP radio’s mobile-journalism pioneer Neal Augenstein covers D.C.-area news using only his iPhone. Today, Augenstein and WTOP are donating his iPhone 4S to the Newseum, which welcomes it as an artifact of the new era of mobile-empowered reporting.
“I’m delighted the Newseum is recognizing that mobile journalism is taking its place along legacy reporting tools,” Augenstein told me via email. “Being able to record and edit audio and video, take and edit pictures, write Web stories, and do social networking on a single device has revolutionized my job.”
He’s also donating a customized stand he created to hold the iPhone.
“The stand is my juryrigged stand, for when I mount the iPhone on a podium at a news conference. The challenge was — how to hold the iPhone in front of the newsmaker snugly, without scratching the screen. I superglued some thin foam into a standard microphone clip, which does the trick. It’s never once allowed the phone to fall (which would have given me a heart attack). I’ve still never seen anyone else mount an iPhone on a podium, for some reason.”
“We collect all sorts of things that relate to changes in news technology,” Newseum Curator of Collections Carrie Christoffersen told me. “It was really interesting to us, since he’s doing all of his audio interviews, editing, video work, all on his iPhone, with some supplement from an iPad. He’s enabled himself to be very, very on-the-go.”
There is no immediate plan to put the phone and stand on display in the museum, but the Newseum’s exhibits are updated “perpetually,” Christoffersen said. The Internet, TV and radio gallery traces the history of electronic news, and has a special section for digital news.
The donation, which WTOP suggested to the Newseum, is occurring today because Augenstein’s new iPhone 5 just arrived. One advantage was immediately clear, he said — the new phone’s 4G LTE network cuts the upload time for a 40-second audio clip from 30 seconds to just 8 seconds.
Some things about Augenstein’s job, though, have not changed.
“While the technological improvements will continue to make the physical work easier and faster,” he said, “I try to remind journalists it’s now even more important to learn and use the most important tools a journalist has — accuracy, fairness, context, and taste.”