To mark the opening of nominations for the EBU Technology & Innovation Awards 2021, we're looking back at the projects honoured in 2020. Yle's mojo project was one of three runners-up for the T&I Award 2020. This article first appeared in Issue 46 of tech-i magazine.
Jarno Tahvanainen (Yle)
Yle operates more than twenty regional newsrooms around Finland. Distances are vast, yet Yle aims to be where people are in their daily lives. Our vision is to increase the use of lightweight devices and mobile production methods to reach this goal. We strive to get out of our editing suites and into the world. The less our reporters and visual journalists sit inside, the better!
The organization has developed the skills, workflows, and tool sets needed for mobile journalism over several years. ‘Mojo’ has become a natural part of our everyday operations. Mobile phones, along with location-independent media asset management and editing environments, are used on a large scale to produce footage for all of Yle’s platforms.
To make all this happen, mobile equipment and workflows must be simple and standardized. Each Yle mojo set is identical so that technical support is available and malfunctions are easier to resolve remotely. Finland’s long, cold and dark winters are challenging for mobile devices in many ways. Ensuring the functionality of the equipment in all conditions is an important and ongoing development process.
Software upgrades and rapid hardware development require constant monitoring and response and keep our experts busy. The core team consists of individuals with technical, journalistic and visual skills. Their most important asset is listening carefully to users’ wishes and ideas.
We have come a long way in more than four years of development. The novelty inspired by a few active people has expanded to become a standard way of operating in regional offices. The Yle mojo- community already comprises over 350 members, and training is provided on a regular basis. Mojo equipment is not only used by mobile journalists, but also by videographers in their daily work alongside traditional ENG equipment. Also, mobile multi- camera productions are already a common way to produce live streams from all over Finland.The most extensive mobile production to date, “Voters’ Sofa”, included 12 episodes filmed in ordinary Finnish homes across the country in 2019. The series brought voters and parliamentary election candidates together in the ordinary citizens’ living rooms. The production method made it possible to shoot the multicam- series in small spaces, over a short period with a small production crew.
Ready for COVID-19
Mojo readiness ensured a smooth transition to working remotely in regional news desks when COVID-19 broke out; every journalist had a smartphone, cloud-based video editing tools, and proven workflows already in place. Most of the regional staff are still telecommuting. Yle plans to acquire dozens more mojo sets for those working remotely. We are currently working on a new version that will be even more user-friendly for those who have no previous experience of the mobile filming gear.
During spring 2020, Yle’s regional news desks did on average more than 250 mojo productions per month. The figure includes gathering footage, editing stories and live broadcasts. Since there are some 200 journalists working on regional news, mojo production is an integral part of content production. There are some 70 standardized mojo equipment sets in use in regional news.
Mobile journalism is about more than the convenience and technical advantages of lightweight gear. It enriches storytelling and allows us to react quickly. It also frees other journalistic resources for wider news coverage. Mobile journalism is a community-driven way of working and we are more than happy to share our experiences and learn from others. Contact us directly (jarno.tahvanainen@ yle.fi) or participate in the EBU T&I Slack hub!