Journalists are often lectured about the implications of “disruption” on their profession. Many of these lectures come from cultural vandals, who haven’t read anything deeper than a press release since the 1990s and who think Google and Amazon are champions of content rather than free-riders upon it. In their own Whig history, marketed as “the Internet,” the disruptive crowd has little patience for institutions such as newspapers, which ironically represent a progressive society rather than a Hobbesian every-curator-for-himself state of (digital, naturally) nature.
But what if one really did want to be a disruptive journalist – whether ironically or earnestly -, with a traditional ethos yet tools that, by being low-cost/free, would provide advantages over expensive CMSes and newsrooms? I thought of this approach – cheekily – when my sister was contemplating starting a blog but balking at the idea of having to purchase a new laptop and camera to support it. She was right to consider going high-end since she was going to be doing food blogging, but her case was unusual. It’s possible to do a ton of blogging using a cheap Android phone (hell, I even did it outdoors with a 2G EDGE connection once).
Here are the apps that make this tack possible. Combined they cost a whopping $0, or a few bucks if you splurge on Notif Pro.
Android doesn’t have a built-in voice recorder app, an oversight which rivals its lack of an out-of-the-box podcast client. Still, there are many third-party options. Cogi is weird but useful. It lets you record high-quality audio, add notes and photos, and share your recordings easily. It’s good for interviewers, although less adventurous reporters might want to go with Easy Voice Recorder.
I’ve written about this app many times. Its functionality is hardly revolutionary, but it is: 1) built-in to many versions of Android; 2) easy to use; 3) versatile. It’s good enough. Use it to scribble down a note, make a reminder, or save ephemera.
For a free app, Pixlr Express has an astonishing amount of functionality, with a full suite of filters, image manipulators, stickers, and fonts. It’s maintained by Autodesk and as such gets regular updates (no “app rot” here), with seasonal add-ons and other expansions. Ideal for turning an drive-by photo into something that could be posted to a blog.
Said blog has to live somewhere, right? WordPress has worked out well enough for me and many others. Back-end maintenance is taken care off and there are plenty of good themes and a decent ad network. The app itself combines an editor, posts viewer, social reader, and stats checker. It also has good support for quick photos and videos. I’ve written many of the posts on this blog from the Android app.
Sometimes I’ll find a great source but forget the link months later when I really need it, or find that the page has changed or been downranked in Google to the point of oblivion. With a Premium subscription to Pocket, nothing gets lost – ever. Pocket is a read-it-later-service that can make permanent copies of saved pages and has a great search and tagging system.
Notif Pro seems to have no purpose. It makes custom notifications in your phone’s tray. These little icons can be useful, though. Say you want to make a list but not have to go into Keep to see it. You can just create one right in Notif Pro, and have it pinned to your notification tray! It also supports photos.