Is the iPhone 3G S Speeding Citizen Journalism Forward?

Citizen journalism is about to become more powerful than you had imagined. The reason? The just-released iPhone 3G S, with its built-in video recording power and ability to directly upload to YouTube. 

Citizen journalism is already quite popular, and even CNN likes to use its iReporters as news gatherers. But in general the breaking of news has been in the form of still photos or text-based Tweets—as in the case of the Hudson river plane crash—or, occasionally, poor-quality cellphone video. This is going to change, and some new data suggests the iPhone 3G S is the reason.

Before you point out that other cellphones exist that can shoot video and upload it to YouTube, yes I know, there are a number of them. But I don't think a single one of them can generate a statistic like this one: In the six days since the 3G S's launch, YouTube has reported an incredible 400% increase in mobile video uploads. That's literally four times as much mobile video content being uploaded now that people are using the new iPhone versus all the other portable devices used to upload movies beforehand.

Why is this? It's a combination of things, starting with the iPhone's new camera unit. The 3-megapixel lens is surprisingly good for stills, and the phone even has the capability to record 720p video. Although this option is crippled down to a maximum VGA resolution, the device can still shoot decent video. Next, uploading to YouTube is supported directly over the air on the phone, meaning it's very easy to record a clip and play it for the world right then and there. (The quality won't be as good as if you save it to your desktop first, as you'll see from this comparison on BoingBoing Gadgets, but still plenty good.) And finally, the video editing options in the new phone are extremely handy. They're not exhaustive, but they're ideal for trimming the clip you just recorded of your pal walking into a lamppost.

And that's where the iPhone may transform citizen journalism. It's clearly going to sell in the millions across the globe—think what that will mean for the YouTube upload rates. And then imagine what such ubiquitous high-quality mobile video could do for the protesters in Iran, or the footage that would be made available in a similar event to the Hudson crash. The best camera is the one you have on you, as the saying goes—and when it comes to breaking news, that may well be the new iPhone.

[YouTube Blog via Wired]

Related Stories:
iPhone 3G S Hardware Can Record 720p Video, so Why Doesn't It?
Iranian Reformist Protestors Tweet on Despite the Government
Web 2.0: Future of Video

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3 Comments

  • Kit Eaton

    @Ethan. It's going to be very interesting indeed--a strange sort of parallel to the way "old media" is complaining about "new media" blogs and whatnot.
    @Noah. Yup--that's going to be a real pitfall, although it's easier to verify that something's going on in an image rather than a plain text Tweet. The Worlds Funniest Home Videos shows are going to get a kick too.

  • NoahRobischon

    One thing is that it will require reporters to verify information from regular people, rather than relying on well-placed sources who they are associated with--and who may be biased.

  • Ethan Lyon

    It will be interesting to watch the role of traditional media change as citizen journalism emerges as a powerful news reporting resource. As video capturing technology permeates new mobile devices, traditional media will have to explore a new value proposition. As always, Apple is changing the game rules.

    Ethan
    Senior Writer
    Sparxoo.com
    A Branding, Marketing Blog