Tuesday, June 18, 2013
New mobile reporting app allows for the safe production and publication of news reports. On Sunday 16 June, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Timmermans presented a new Free Press Unlimited project during the Freedom Online Conference in Tunisia: the StoryMaker app. StoryMaker allows journalists and activists to unobtrusively gather information, produce more effective reports and share them in a safe manner via their mobile phone. During the presentation of the app, the Minister spoke about StoryMaker’s benefits in the Middle East and North Africa: “Mobile reporting ensures that governments – however repressive they are – can no longer withhold important information from the public.”

Better stories with greater impact
StoryMaker combines digital security tools with editing software and a journalism training programme. This mix of features is aimed at improving the quality of stories produced with the help of mobile telecommunications technology. “A lot of the content currently made using mobile phones is of poor quality, but often this is not down to the quality of the phone itself,” says Niels ten Oever of Free Press Unlimited. StoryMaker not only teaches the user how to make individual images of a news event, but also how to tell the accompanying story from a variety of perspectives. Thanks to the high quality of the cameras and microphones in today’s phones – even in the more affordable price range – a growing number of people are able to produce high-quality reports. This revolutionises the business of reporting, according to Ten Oever: “This app allows people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to share their perspective tell their story to the rest of the world. With this app, journalism is no longer simply a profession – it becomes a method.”

StoryMaker – a collaboration
StoryMaker was jointly developed by Free Press Unlimited, The Guardian Project and Small World News. According to Ten Oever, this collaborative approach has benefited the app: “Thanks to an exchange of expertise regarding reporting in repressive environments, open source applications and the organisation of trainings, we have succeeded in developing an app that we believe will revolutionise mobile reporting.” The app is presently offered in two languages: English and Arabic. Anyone can help to translate StoryMaker’s content into other languages, so that the app becomes accessible to as many people as possible around the world. Owners of Android tablets and mobile phones can now download the beta version of the app free of charge via Google Play.