Citizen Reporters

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A few years ago we all received our news from the newspapers

Then we got news from the television

Then we got news from the internet

Then we got news from Social Media

Now is the dawn of the “Citizen Reporter” time for a new way to get our news and that is from you

There is nothing to stop you becoming a citizen reporter of all that happens to you and around you, all you need is a camera+Internet and the drive to make a change happen. We live in a fast changing world, where new technology arrives every day. As citizen reporters we have to keep each other aware of all that is happening to each other, today. I don’t want to be another statistic in the eyes of Google and or Facebook. I want to get my news from other people around the world direct. People like myself who are not trying to sell me an idea, ideology or a product. I just want the truth of what is actually happening to you: right now. I want to judge people on their actions through my own eyes and sight without the filter of what is “right or wrong” as judged by others. I don’t want the parameters of what is right or wrong shoved down my throat I want to see it for myself.

Just to be clear I am not advocating that the wonderful news media and teams that have done sterling work in bringing us the news should be sidelined. I just want everything to be self verified by picture and audio for us and by us. I think it would be great to hear the narrative from people directly involved if they want to share, and if they know how to do just that.

Its not hard to let people know what you are doing if you have the right kit and the right mind set.

Yesterday I was a Citizen Reporter for an evening.

I wanted to see if I can use things that I have around me on a daily basis without spending any other money to film and broadcast the Westminster City Council meeting. I wanted to see if it is possible to do this without putting myself out of pocket, I managed it without having to spend an extra penny. Yes you can do it too, on an even smaller budget, I did it all for under £300 worth of equipment as can be bought off ebay right now.

ImageAs you can see above this is the kit I used. I will describe everything you need from left to right and then the tripod.

Battery Charger:

Can be found here Choose a cheap one, I borrowed that from a friend. I decided not to take a chance of either the Mifi or the iPad running out of power while filming and broadcasting so I took one of these with me as a back up plan. (£39.99)

Mifi:

From EE I have monthly plan of 8GB which costs me £22 a month, as you can see the whole of last nights broadcasting which started at 19.00 pm and went through to 21.48 and was in HD and High Quality audio only took up 921MB. (Just to be clear Bambuser allows you to send the rest of the data files that you did not broadcast live at the time up when you get home, so the 921MB is just what was broadcast.) The higher the resolution you use, the higher the bandwidth required. I don’t think you need more than this quality or you may get issues with the sound being distorted as was the case with us last night. It also does not help if people do not speak into Microphones hey Liam? (£22.00 a Month) Just to be clear you do not need a Mifi and can in fact tether your smart device to a hotspot form your phone, but it has to be 4G if you want to broadcast, 3G will not do. You can obviously record off line with Bambuser and upload from home.

The cable to you see in picture is to keep the Mifi charged with the portable battery above.

Image iPad Mini

I have the 32GB version without 3G and it can be found here Yes you can buy them from eBay or elsewhere cheaper or as a refurbished one, but I bought mine from Apple. There is nothing wrong with using any other operating device such as Android so long as it has a camera and can connect to the internet. So it can be ANY Smart device. I used the iPad to broadcast rather than my iPhone, because I was watching the stream and chatting to people on twitter as I was broadcasting with my hand set. (also I am addicted to my phone and can’t live without it being in my hand). The main reason I did not want to use my phone to record is that people tend to ring my phone at the worst possible times. If you have an audience that is watching your stream they do not want to be disturbed by your constant calls. So I would suggest you use another device other than a phone if you can. (£185 second hand)

The cable is to charge the iPad by the end of the recording it was on 56% so did not need another boost.

Clamp:

You can find them here and the important thing about the clamp is that it should have a screw to go on to a tripod. Its not a good idea to film with the camera in your hands you will get tired and you will lose your audience. (£10)

Tripod:I got mine for free when I bought my camera from Jessops (gawd bless them) otherwise you can find them here. This is very important part of the kit you have. If you want people to watch and listen to the meetings then you have to have a very stable picture. Nothing makes people switch off more than seeing a jumpy picture, it switches the brain off when you do that, so use a Tripod failing that get a stick and tape your device to it and keep it very still so the camera is not wondering all over the place. (£15)

Twitter

Now I believe twitter is a very good tool to engage with people while you are broadcasting. I was able through the help of a viewer (Liam the Life saver) to get things right or try my best to do that. I also believe that much like twitter is used in a #Hashtag for an event such as Question Time you can do this with other live events and have people give a running commentary from their homes as they watch meetings like this. This can and should be a model for engagement for people who are unable to get out to these meetings and who want to know what is happening as it happens. It maybe boring for some but for others it could be a the only way to stay informed, on matters that are relevant to them, but are normally not seen, due to mobility issues. So try to create a hashtag for your events at all times, I used #CoWApr2014 for the evening no one else used it :).

Bambuser

Now to the bit that does all the magic of broadcasting for you. There is a free service version that is used by all sorts of people to broadcast what they are doing live, to an audience. You can easily find this App on iTunes and on Googleplay download onto your smart device. The setup is easy and allows instant sharing with a dozen social media sites, Facebook, Twitter…etc. We now live an age where 4G is rolling out across the country it’s not everywhere but a lot of the population is covered by it and it is a requirement to have at least 2mb upload to be able to broadcast in HD and a clear audio line, in my personal experience. I am sure there are other companies that do this kind of work but Bambuser for me does it all. I use them because they are easy to use and because of the word of mouth of a good friend @johnPopham. The other great thing about Bambuser is that it allows you to record off line and then when you get home to use the home internet to upload it all to your channel.

Audio

Just a tip that I think I need to add here about the audio. I setup as in the below picture. with the iPad nearly touching the speaker. I kindly asked the staff of Westminster City Council (Nick Spencer top man) in the morning if I can have access to the venue before they started and they kindly obliged. As you can see I chose the middle speaker facing the podium and was able to get all of the council members in the broadcast with a very strong and clear audio. Only issue is when the they decide to not talk into the microphones.

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ImageThis is the link for the Westminster City Council Meeting I had to do it as two broadcasts that follow each other with a gap of around a minute missing of the Lord Mayors speech as there was an issue with the sound quality. I tried to resolve this by reducing the audio quality a little, but as I said earlier the speakers were not speaking into the microphones.

Spreaker

I also just wanted to add another piece of information for you about another great App on iTunes and on Google Play here that can be used to broadcast and record audio only events. It is very light weight on bandwidth and can record off-line for you and you can then broadcast to your channel later on.

Final Word

On a very long post, sorry for the length of this thing, I hope that others are inspired to do the same and become “Citizen Reporters” to share their news so we can keep each other informed.

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About Hozwoldian

I am building an organisation that is going to help transform the relationship between a citizen and the state. I love democracy and liberty above all else. The world is in the grasp of an idealogical battle between those that would like to see the world divided into smaller and smaller groups of people and those are trying to unite humanity to give everyone equal human rights my personal philosophy is best described by the words of the Magna Carta. “NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be dispossessed of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgement of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man; we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right”.
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