A practical presentation of mobile technology for Panamanian journalists

Mar 222011

Chiriqui, Panama – “I want not only to hear about new technologies, but rather to use them,” a trainee said during the Mi Panama Transparente workshop in David, Chiriqui, a city at the Panama – Costa Rica border.

We had the opportunity to train 15 journalists from this important border province. One of the main workshop topics was the professional use of new technologies to cover breaking news as they happen.

The trainee words were representative of a trend among journalists already using new technologies and social networks, but still wanting to learn more about how to use them professionally. In Panama one third of the 3-million population has access to the Internet and 600,000 are on Facebook. But access to mobile phone is much bigger: there are close to 6 million mobile phone accounts in Panama.

This is why I think mobile phones will be a crucial tool for Panamanian journalists. During the workshop, I used my own mobile phone to show the Chiriqui journalists some possible mobile applications.

While journalist Rafael Candanedo was lecturing on new technologies, I took my mobile phone, a Nokia E72, record his conference and broadcast it live via Bambuser, an online platform for live coverage. All interested journalists in Panama and the world can take a look at the conference at any time.

After the Candanedo's presentation, I showed the trainees the videos recorded in Bambuser and the photos I had uploaded in Twitpic. This platform allows you to post pictures on Twitter and, if you have linked both accounts, you can post them simultaneously on Facebook too.

It was the first time some of Chiriqui journalists saw how those platforms work, and they immediately began to think on ways to incorporate them into their everyday work.

Bambuser would be a terrific tool for Chiriqui journalists to take video and share it immediately with their social networks. This platform got a minute of fame after El Comercio's journalist Susana Moran used a Nokia E-71 to report a violent police uprising against Ecuador president Rafael Correa on September 30, 2010.

Moran was in a day off, but she decided to cover the uprising when she was passing by the hospital where president Correa was being treated urgently. She immediately took her mobile phone and began to use Snaptu.com to twit the riots as well as Bambuser to broadcast video. At one point she got trapped in a crossfire and had to hide in a restroom, from where she began to twit her experience.

I hope no Chiriqui journalist is involved in such risky situations, but if given the case, at least they know how to use a mobile phone to cover what they hear and see.