L’Echo and De Tijd’s Nicolas Becquet on digital tools and platforms

Nicolas Becquet is a journalist and editorial developer at Mediafin, publisher of financial and economic newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd in Belgium. He is also a blogger and trainer who focuses on new online storytelling formats and innovation in journalism, social networks and mobile journalism. In addition, Becquet has developed a kit, the kit iReporter, for mobile journalism using smartphones and tablets.

Nicolas Becquet - Mediafin / DCARCHIEF

by WAN-IFRA Staff | September 29, 2014

Becquet will be talking about the kit and the importance of digital tools at the upcoming 13th International Newsroom Summit during World Publishing Expo in October, in Amsterdam on 13th and 14th of October.

In this interview, Amelia Loewensohn asks Becquet about the kit, mobile journalism and the implementation of digital tools in the newsroom.

WAN-IFRA: What new storytelling platforms do you see making the biggest change in the industry today? 

Nicolas Becquet: Twitter and social media platforms allow a more efficient and faster broadcast of richer multimedia contents with an excellent targeting. I’m furthermore impressed by data driven platforms like orCartoDB. I personally use Thinglink, a service that helps creating interactivity based on images.

How well equipped are journalists in your newsroom currently to produce mobile journalism? Where are the weaknesses? How do you try to address them? How do you see the future of mobile journalism progressing?

We have three iReporter kits, with different kind of accessories (tripod, mics…) for interviews, reports… The main weakness resides in the poor quality of the iPad lenses. They’re good enough to record HD videos, but when the light is not strong enough, the images lack quality. With the new generation of smartphones (iPhone 5 or 6 for example), the lenses are powerful and get the job done without this side-effect.

I strongly believe in mobile journalism, and not only concerning video broadcasting. Mobile journalism is about reactivity, autonomy and multimedia storytelling. It allows capturing the complexity of news by giving every piece of information the best format to reach the readers… It is a influential storytelling tool that connects field and web through social media platforms.

What new journalistic innovations are having the most impact on the industry at the moment? 

Algorithms developed by third party powerful platforms: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix…

Why do you think there has been such a delay in the implanting of digital tools in the newsroom?

Unfortunately, newsrooms are still focusing on paper workflow, whether publishers say or pretend not to… I think the digital shift is excessively technology centered (responsive website, HTML 5 compatibility, apps, online marketing…) and therefore not enough journalism centered. The reflection about digital strategy should start from where journalists need to tell stories they are working on and determine solutions to implement it.

The digital tools are often forced to journalists, without explaining why they should use them.

What has been the response to the Kit iReporter?

There are really enthusiastic responses from journalists who are enthusiastic for a deeper approach and who have already understood the power of social media platforms and multimedia storytelling. The freelancers are also enthusiastic because it’s another path for them for diversifying contents they created, generating new incomes.

Has there been any development in the Kit iReporter project since its inception?

It’s always work in progress. The apps are ever-evolving with tons of new professional features, but it would be a fulltime job to follow the evolution and updates of every single application.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am working on new formats for L’Echo website, that are compatible with responsive design, more specifically tablet and desktop displays. It’s a big challenge.

What new platforms or innovations do you predict will soon be making an impact in the industry? 

Data driven journalism is an important issue for finding relevant pieces of information and enhancing smart displays of large amounts of data.

How has L’Echo changed in your time there? 

The reactivity has improved and we pay more and more attention to how our contents are promoted and consumed on all digital platforms.

How has your training scheme changed since the time you began training people; particularly in terms of adapting to new technologies and ideas? 

We look out for more examples, more practice and also give more explanations over the “digital ecosystem.” It is getting every day a little harder to understand how it works, the difference between apps, webservices, API, social media platforms… And thus, we have to be more effective.

Nicolas Becquet will be a speaker during the session Digital tools: they are free and effective, why aren’t you using them? at the 13th International Newsroom Summit during World Publishing Expo on 13 and 14 October 2014, in Amsterdam.

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