4 great tools for the budding video and mobile journalist or film-maker

Posted on August 13, 2013


Publishing or curating content online is so easy and there are excellent free tools out there to help you get it done quickly and in an attractive way.

Publishing or curating content online is so easy and there are excellent free tools out there to help you get it done quickly and in an attractive way.

When it comes to posting your ideas online, either as a virtual ‘notebook’, magazine or multimedia resource for yourself and others there are some incredible tools out there for you to use absolutely free of charge. Four really stand out as ideal for helping people to break into online digital publishing – you can create your own entirely original ‘publications’ by simply curating content from around the web.


First up is Scoop.it. Billed as a curation tool, it allows users to take content from the net and build it into a kind of interactive wall. Scoop.it will actually crawl the web looking for suggestions on any topic that you ask it to search for, you can then pick and choose between the most valuable material for your given subject. You can then also link it to multiple social media accounts to update them at the same time. Currently it allows you to connect Tumblr, WordPress, Linked-In, Twitter and Facebook accounts, plus there are plans to integrate Pinterest and Google+.

Pay a bit extra (check the payment plans online) and you can get a Pro or Business account that will allow you to connect to other targetted social media accounts and send curated email newsletters via a Mailchimp account. With a free account you can choose up to five topics to curate online (Pro provides 10, Biz 15 and an extra Education account allows 20). The only drawback it seems is the need to choose your Scoop.it name wisely as once you have chosen you can’t change it.


Next is Paper.li, a simple and effective way to create an online magazine based around your interests. It is marketed as a “niche publishing, content marketing and web monitoring” tool for specialist publishing on the web, similar in scope to Scoop.it. Again, it allows you to monitor sources across the web and curate information from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Youtube and RSS feeds. Create business or educational newsletters based on your specialist interest and completely customise the look of your Paper.li using your own branding. The layout is designed to create maximum impact on tablets and mobiles so people will access it on the go.

Built into the free package is the ability to schedule updates for specific times throughout the day, along with email notification for new editions, the ability to embed on your own website, usage statistics and a bookmarklet for your browser to grab content from the web. Paper.li would work great for research groups, building special interest communities or ’cause’ sites. There is also a ‘newsstand’ built into the website so you can search by individual member or subject for your favourite Paper.li. Pay for the Pro edition and you get email newsletters, ad revenue generation and a host of other neat tools.

Spundge 2

Third on the list is Spundge.com. Looking a little like a Pinterest wall, it is an excellent curation tool that allows you to create ‘notebooks’ on a specific topic. Like Scoop.it and Paper.li the Spundge website allows you to grab any web content to share and collaborate with others on curation. There is a bookmarklet for grabbing from your browser and and ‘Spundge it’ button for WordPress blogs so people can grab your blog posts and send them to their own Spundge site.

Go Pro and you get email newsletters through Mailchimp, scheduled posts, the ability to publish direct to WordPress, analytics and enhanced collaboration among other features.

By the way, look at this excellent Spundge put together by the video and mobile journalist community (VJs and MoJos) by clicking on the link below – full of helpful tips plus excellent posts on varied and interesting subjects.

Mobile journalism

Tracking mobile reporting and innovations in mobile journalism.

mobile journalism

View “Mobile journalism” on Spundge

Last and definitely not least is Storify. This tool is widely used by journalists – I think partly because it allows you to layout your content in a kind of ‘newspaper’ style with a headline and intro. Grab content from anywhere using Storify’s built in search engine, position and re-position videos, tweets, pics, text, audio or whatever into a story based around your subject and then publish. The neat thing about Storify is that it then notifies everyone embedded in the story (I’m guessing through Twitter, Google+ etc, but not individual websites) about their appearance on your page, making it more likely that your story will ‘go viral’.

You can embed stories onto any website with an embed code from Storify. I’ve used this tool a couple of times already – once for a story about research at the Dental School in Newcastle University and another time for the excellent Maker Faire 2013 at the Centre For Life in Newcastle – and I found it quite handy, quick to use and fairly comprehensive in its search abilities. I’m not sure about the layout online, but aesthetics can be improved and it has excellent tools under the hood.

Try all four of these tools if you’re blogging, looking at digital publishing or just want to create a neat newsletter incorporating video and other multimedia sources.

Robin Fearon.