Mobile Journalist on an SD Card

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Mobile Journalist on an SD Card

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mobile Journalist on an SD Card tests and delivers the BEST new mobile media tools for reporting in any environment.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Most journalists already use mobiles phones, but the sheer number of tools available makes it difficult to know the most effective way to use them. Mobile Journalist on an SD Card tests and makes accessible the BEST of the tools for journalists and citizen journalists - downloadable and on SD cards ready to plug into any phone. First, it is important to test these new tools in the field. We draw from our expertise and the resources of the Mobile Media Toolkit to share tools, via an SD card, with up to 200 Al Jazeera English reporters, working in the field around the world. Second, it is important to make the lessons and tools available to a larger audience. As part of this second phase of Mobile Journalist on an SD Card, we create short and accessible scenario-based reviews of the tools, available online or via SD card ready to use on any phone. Between these two phases, Mobile Journalist on an SD Card dramatically improves media access and participative citizenship around the world by leveraging tech to enable anyone to capture, contribute, and deliver news content via mobile. We take the guesswork and noise out of a growing landscape of new mobile media tools.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

That mobile applications, new media, and technology are an increasingly crucial component of journalism today is no surprise. What is difficult is parsing through the many new tools and platforms. Put bluntly, there is a lot of junk out there. This is why we developed the Mobile Media Toolkit, which provides guidance on tools, resources, and case studies of how mobiles can be used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media participation. Mobile Journalist on an SD Card takes the Toolkit one step further. It literally puts mobile media into the hands of journalists, via SD cards that are used on a journalists’ own mobile device. The project team will deliver up to 8 suggested applications in two broad categories: low bandwidth/low resource/high conflict environment and good bandwidth/well-resourced/stable environment. We are working with a team of professional reporters from Al Jazeera English who will test the apps in the field. In this way, we are further vetting and selecting the most innovative, useful, and accessible mobile tools. In the second phase of Mobile Journalist on SD card, we develop an online “deployment kit” for journalists who want to add new tools to their reporting arsenal. Simplicity and accessibility is key; the scenarios will have minimal text, interesting, useful graphics, and few choices or links. The scenarios can be digested quickly by trained reporters and citizen journalists. We also produce SD cards with tools for wider (and easy) dissemination through journalist organizations that we already work with.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Mobile Journalist on an SD Card tests and makes available up to 8 mobile media apps in two broad scenarios. In the first scenario, a trained reporter or citizen journalist is working in a low-resource environment. This means that a reliable Internet connection is nonexistent, intermittent, or unsafe, or there is a risk of network disruption. Journalists do not have a professional team available and citizen journalists work on their own. In such an environment, being able to report via a mobile phone is crucial. See this example from Libya, for example. In the second scenario, a reporter or citizen is operating in a more fully wired environment, meaning that Internet access is reliable and relatively safe. The reporter may have multiple resources at hand, such as professional newsroom support or news teams. In this scenario, mobile plays an important role as a “value add” to enhance reporting capabilities or engage more users. See this example from the WNYC radio station. In this way, our project offers solutions for journalists and citizens in various reporting environments. It leverages technology to add value to content, circumvent issues of connectivity or network shut-downs, promote citizen media creation, distribution and engagement, and better equip journalists with the best new mobile tools. We test tools and make these lessons available to a larger audience in appealing, easy-to-use, scenario-based guides, online and via SD card.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

A partnership between Al Jazeera English and the Mobile Media Toolkit is key to the success of this project. The Mobile Media Toolkit, developed over the last several years, is a unique, content-heavy resource that is all about Making Media Mobile. It is currently available in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Al Jazeera stands as an innovative, respected international media company with a robust reporting staff. Together, we will test and vet mobile media tools via SD card, and make our findings and suggestions available to a larger audience. There are no other resources like the Mobile Media Toolkit currently available, and this project takes the online Toolkit content to the next level through innovative, hands-on testing and sharing.
About You
Organization: and the Mobile Media Toolkit
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name and the Mobile Media Toolkit

Organization Country

, NY

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

The simple fact is that using mobile phones in media production isn't always as easy as it seems. Finding the right tool and using it correctly to reach the broadest possible audience requires knowledge of the mobile landscape. Mobile Journalist on an SD Card is the solution.

We test and vet the best mobile media tools among respected, trained journalists and make these lessons available to the widest audience possible. We create bright, easy-to-use, scenario-based guides so that journalists, citizens, media development organizations, and newsrooms around the world can enhance their work with mobile media tools that make sense.

This gives a voice to underserved populations by making media creation and distribution more accessible to citizen journalists looking for the right tools. It also better equips working journalists with effective new tools or channels to receive, create, and share important news.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

The Mobile Media Toolkit was developed and tested over the last several years and officially launched in June 2011. Since then, we have added numerous case studies, mobile tools, and guides on how to Make Media Mobile. Since the launch 3 months ago, the Toolkit has been viewed nearly 5000 times from 125 countries or territories.

The Toolkit offers guidance for curious and concerned citizens, professional reporters, media development organizations, and newsrooms. With the first phase of Mobile Journalist on an SD Card, we have the potential to work with 200 reporters from Al Jazeera English.

Al Jazeera is a respected international media company broadcasting to 220 million households in more than 100 countries. The Al Jazeera Network has more than 3,000 staff members across the world, including more than 400 journalists from more than 60 countries.

In the second phase, we make these lessons available to thousands of individuals and organizations through promotion and marketing of the mobile tool scenarios and deployment kits.

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

Technology moves quickly and new mobile media tools are developed every day. In light of this, Mobile Journalist on an SD card is replicable, expandable, and adaptable. Within 1 to 5 years, we can take lessons from phase one and two and add new mobile tools. We also continuously create new scenarios based on developments in technology and the larger global media landscape. For instance, scenarios can be developed that highlight the best tools and strategies to use in high-risk environments where citizens and journalists face mobile communication risks. As we continue to develop mobile security software, we can also test our tools and apps with Al Jazeera and other newsrooms and media organizations to create the best, most useful tools, scenarios, and deployment kits.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

In 6 months, we will have selected and tested mobile tools and made these lessons available to a larger audience.

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Identify and choose mobile media apps, test these tools with Al Jazeera journalists, conduct intensive user research.

Task 2

Compile online and downloadable scenarios and tools, based on user reviews.

Task 3

Promote and share the online scenarios and downloadable tools with our larger audiences and networks.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

In 12 months, we have expanded the number of scenarios, tools, and increased our reach by translating content.

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Identify 2 new additional scenarios and 5 relevant tools for each scenario. Translate existing and new content.

Task 2

Complete a second round of testing among Al Jazeera English journalists and potentially other newsrooms.

Task 3

Compile and promote the new apps and scenarios, in multiple languages.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001 - 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured


What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

Finding testers for mobile tools can be time-consuming. While there are volunteers available among our various networks, in many cases, it is best to have journalists test the tools in the field. Our partnership with Al Jazeera English affords us the opportunity for testing and feedback among a large, innovative, and international media company.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

The beauty and benefit of new media and mobile tech in journalsm is exactly this: it shifts constantly. New tools are developed as citizens increasingly contribute and access content via mobile platforms and as reporting environments change due to infrastructure, access, and conflict. Mobile Journalist on an SD Card is strategically poised to adapt by identifying and adding new tools as they become available. We are agile and mobile.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

If site visits, downloads, or interest in Mobile Journalist on an SD Card is low, we will explore alternative delivery options and formats. Part of the plan going forward is to engage with other newsrooms and media organizations around the world, which will also help reach new audiences. Further, as we translate and update content, our target market grows. Future iterations of Mobile Journalist on an SD Card may involve audio or video delivery or hands-on training events.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

Our initial support has come from contracts, foundations, and the United States Government as well as from individual donors. Our earned income stream has included consulting projects and we are now exploring large-scale paid trainings for organizations and individuals to scale our reach and revenue.

Tell us about your partnerships

Mobile Journalist on an SD Card is a joint project from the Mobile Media Toolkit and Al Jazeera English. The Toolkit is a free resource from, funded by the Knight Foundation. Since launch, the Toolkit has been viewed 5000 times from 125 countries/territories. Al Jazeera English is a respected and innovative international media company broadcasting to 220 million households in more than 100 countries. The Al Jazeera Network has more than 3,000 staff members across the world, including more than 400 journalists from more than 60 countries.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

Mobile Journalist on an SD Card has a rock star staff who bring expertise and proven success.

Katrin Verclas is the co-founder of She was a 2009 TED Fellow, a 2010 fellow at the MIT Media Lab, and was named by Fast Company one of the most Influential Women in Tech

Melissa Ulbricht is a journalist with and reports on the role of mobile technology in social change. She is project lead for the Mobile Media Toolkit.

Cynara Vetch is part of the Mobile Team with Al Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Collaboration or networking.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list

One strength of Mobile Journalist on an SD Card is our ability to tap into a dedicated and passionate network of people using mobile tech for social change. Between, SaferMobile, and the Mobile Media Toolkit, we have a large, diverse audience around the world with mobile and media expertise. Al Jazeera English contributes to this strength with its own cadre of 21st century reporters and even larger audience network. For other mobile-based initiatives, we are able to offer content, tools, case studies, and connection to our network of experts.

Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

Mobile Journalist on an SD Card helps makes sense of the growing sphere of mobile tech in media.