Last March, I decided that it was time to retire my old Samsung Galaxy S6. Actually, it was more like the phone decided to retire itself, having labored since my senior year of high school. Nevertheless, as I set out to buy a new phone, I developed a list of specific items my new phone would need to have.

  1. A fast processor, to run multiple apps at once and be able to stream video.
  2. A large, clear display.
  3. Most importantly, a really good camera.

What do these three things have in common? They lead you to a phone that’s built for being a mobile journalist.

According to the latest numbers from the Pew Research Center, 77% of American adults now own smartphones, compared to 59% in 2014 and 35% in 2011. The rising prominence of smartphones in everyday life has benefits for both journalists and their viewers.

Data from the Pew Research Center shows the huge uptick in smartphone owners.


For the journalist, it is much easier to quickly respond to and cover a story when you don’t need to set up a camera, microphones, lighting, and coordinate a live truck. Now, you can have a quick turnaround on a story by merely pulling out your smartphone and hitting the “LIVE” button on Facebook. Being able to tweet out information instantaneously also satisfies the public’s need for real time updates.

On the flip side, viewers can now help journalists tell a story. Since it’s more likely than not that somebody encountering a news event has a smartphone, their social media posts can help a news agency tell a story before a reporter even arrives on the scene.

As smartphone ownership grows and technology continually evolves, it’s interesting to consider what the future holds for newsgathering, both for journalists and the general public.