The question could be raised, what makes a good Community Reporter. Or perhaps the question should be what should a Community Reporter be equipped with. Fortunately we were able to have a glimpse into the ‘secret life’ and equipment of the Community Reporter, John Coster. What are the essentials? A coat with many pockets would be very useful because there are so many small and useful items one needs to carry around on the hunt for a good story.

Community Reporter’s Toolkit

This ranges from gloves, we may have to wait in the cold for the story or the interviewee to arrive, to a decent DSLR camera of course, to items such as a tripod, a mini tripod, a notepad and pen, a water bottle, rucksack, ear phones, a press badge, felt markers, camera lens cleaners, our DMU student card, a digital audio recorder like the ‘Zoom’ along with a wind shield for it, blue tack, insulation tape, USB sticks, a mobile charger and backup battery, mini bluetooth speakers, a laptop, a portable hard drive and most of all a mobile phone. The mobile phone or more precisely a smartphone is our best friend. Surely there must be other items that would proof useful but this we will discover by experience.

While interviewing there are three items to consider, A, B, and C. ‘A’ stands for Audio. This is most essential. ‘B’ stands for Background or Backdrop and ‘C’ stands for Content.

ABC for Interviewing

Best practice is of course to get the story, the photos and the audio or video right from the start. This will save much time spent for editing later on. However, editing can later on be done with audio and video software such as Premiere Pro for video and Cool Edit or a whole range of audio editing software for audio. However, one needs to keep in mind that any editing is very time consuming. One also needs to have a clear plan or workflow routine of how to extract the audio or video footage from ones mobile phone, which can be particularly tricky with the iPhone due to its security ring fenced limitations, but it is possible.

Personally I discovered the Hindenburg Field Recorder app which enables one to record in WAV file format, edit it on the spot and share it to any platform. I was able to place a short musical jingle in front of an interview, adjust sound levels and compression as well as fade out and in, which are all very useful features. All this is possible right on the spot. Only experience will tell us more of what to take and carry around for a good story or an interview.