Broadcaster says iPhone changed his life

BBC broadcaster and iPhone fan Nick Garnett

BBC broadcaster and iPhone fan Nick Garnett

By David Mackie and Jay Unger

‘Mobile’ BBC journalist Nick Garnett has spoken about how technology has changed the way journalists tell stories.

The reporter, who broadcasts for several BBC networks, specifically claimed that the technology used has a direct influence on the pieces made.

He told the audience at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week event that broadcast journalists had been subjected to a series of disastrous gadgets over the past 30 years.

Nick, 50, said: “We used to record on tape. But tape cost £7 a reel and a reel lasted 15 minutes, and it was then physically edited by cutting the tape.”

But he said the invention of new technology has made recording, and live broadcasting, cheaper and significantly easier. Nick points in particular to one product he feels has led the revolution: the iPhone.

The Apple product, which is about to enter its sixth generation, was praised by Nick for its ability to record and edit audio and video, to broadcast live, to take, send and receive photos and to write and file copy. This adaptability makes it, he believes, good value for money and an essential tool for journalists.

However, he stresses that the technology used should not matter to the end user. “It’s all about storytelling at the end of the day.”

Nick is widely seen as an ‘early adopter’ of new technology. He used 3G to broadcast from the Manchester riots of 2011, from a Sheffield tram, and from Paris, where he filed several broadcasts in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre using nothing but an iPhone.

As the situation escalated outside the offices of the satirical French magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’,where 12 people were murdered and led to Paris Police forces conducting one of the biggest ‘man hunts’ the country has seen, Nick stressed the importance of being able to follow the events without being ‘tied down’ by technology.

Nick said: “News has changed, of course it has. The actual events the way that news unfurls has changed – all my ‘techy’ plans had gone out the window.”

Initial plans were to broadcast via satellite, but communications jammed due to huge signal traffic in the area. Nick then used his iPhone to report more than 50 live broadcasts for 5live – in 60 hours.

Mr Garnett described how he managed to convince a ‘French cabbie’ to drive through a police roadblock, as he pretended to be asleep in the back, so he could get ‘closer to the action’ and broadcast his live report from inside the cordoned off area in Dammartin-en-Goele – where the suspected killers were reported to be.

Nick said: “If I had all that large equipment in a huge bag, there is no-way that would have worked. To the outside world I was just a man, by the side of a road, on his phone.”

Talking about the IPhone and the ability to live broadcast from anywhere he said: “It isn’t over egging to say IP changed my life! The iPhone has certainly changed broadcasting forever.”

The 5 live broadcaster, who’s first paid job was in local radio and joined the BBC radio network service over 20 years ago in 1994, has broadcast over 6,000 live items accumulating to 300 broadcasting hours.

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