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Quality Journalism in the Digital Age

Tools & Apps for Journalists: JamSnap

jamsnapPerhaps the easiest way to describe JamSnap is as an iPhone app that lets you make an interactive image by adding snippets of sound and then share it through social media. It will remind you of other apps, but JamSnap is a deceptively simple idea that lets you tell a short story. Think Instagram, but with an audio clip to provide more context or natural sound. Think Thinglink, but easier to produce. And while SoundCloud and Audioboo both allow you to attach photos to an audio clip, JamSnap lets you grab the interest of the audience with an image first. That’s probably going to be more attractive to mobile users.

How do you make a JamSnap?

After launching the app, tap the camera icon on the top right-hand side. This will engage the camera and gives you access to a few simple controls: tap to focus, flash on/off, and switching between the iPhone’s front or rear camera. Or, you can upload a photo from your iPhone’s photo album.

Like Instagram, JamSnap offers you a square frame for photos, so you’ll have to adjust your image to fill the frame. Once you’re finished adjusting the image, tap “Choose”.

Then comes the interesting part.

A prompt will appear on your screen to “tap & hold anywhere to add sounds”. So, choose a point on your image where you think it’s most appropriate to add a sound, then tap and hold to record. As you’re holding to record you can move your sound tag around the image. The limit for a clip is 10 seconds.

Give some thought as to how you are holding your iPhone before you tap to record. Is it pointing the right way to capture the sound you want?

You can add up to 10 audio clips to each image.

To discard an audio clip, simply tap, hold and swipe the clip away to the edge of your mobile screen.

There are several sound effects that you can add, such as a voice exclaiming “Oh my god!”. Similarly, after you have recorded a clip, you can add audio filters. But these audio sfx or filters are probably not going to be what you’re looking for in a journalism context.

Once you’re finished recording your audio clips, click “Next” and you can add a caption to the image, and choose whether to make the JamSnap public or private. You can also share your JamSnap directly to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and social media networks.

Click “Share” and you’re done. Check out the video below for a demo.

From your user feed on the JamSnap website you can locate the < > icons for the html code to embed your JamSnap into a blog or website. Either manually log on to your feed by typing – or use the share functions in the app to email yourself the image link or share via Twitter which will also generate a link to the image.

JamSnap images and audio also appear and play directly within a Twitter timeline which is very useful for getting people to actually see and hear your stories.

What could journalists produce with JamSnap?

JamSnaps developer Mayank Sanganeria told onMedia that his inspiration for the app was to create a way of easily adding information or context to photographs he wanted to share with his family and friends.

That’s a good starting point for storytelling or documenting an event.

Potentially you could use JamSnap to produce an image with an audio dispatch, or with an interview soundbite or a series of audio clips, and of course a caption. Another story format to explore might be to first create a collage of images in another app, importing this collage into JamSnap, and then adding audio clips plus a caption.

JamSnap also works with an external microphone for recording audio.

Sanganeria said an Android version is a likely to be the next step in development, and perhaps a “Pro” version for mobile journalists. At the moment onMedia is testing a beta version of JamSnap that lets you record longer clips and insert audio from Dropbox and the AudioCopy app. The ability to record and edit audio in another app and insert into the JamSnap image is very useful.

These days it’s quite rare that an application I use only after a few minutes makes its way straight to my page of favorite reporting apps but I think JamSnap is one that may well stay.

What else should journalists know about JamSnap?

Cost: Free.

Languages: The user interface is only in English at the moment.

Audio format: Audio is recorded on your iPhone in the .m4a format and then uploaded to JamSnap’s server and also encoded into .mp3 and .ogg – this allows audio to be shared and played on different browsers and devices.

Author: Guy Degen


Tuesday 2014-08-26