That was one of the things I learned about at the “Journalism 3G: A Symposium on Computation & Journalism” conference that vividly illustrated how technology is changing newsgathering.
CNN has begun using these backpacks throughout the war-torn areas of the Middle East, in part, because they believes it better protects the people in the field (a reporter wearing a backpack is a smaller target than a reporter with a truck load of equipment). But it also allows them to leapfrog competitors in getting video of the news from nearly anywhere.
A journalist can set up and get live video on its way to CNN headquarters in less than 10 minutes, said Paul Ferguson, supervising editor, International News at CNN. Ferguson was on a Saturday morning panel on “Advances in News Gathering” at the computation+journalism symposium at Georgia Tech.
The backpack is a camera, a G4 Apple laptop and a satellite modem. Firewire the camera to the laptop, connect the laptop to the modem, fire up the software and, BAM, you’re on the “internet in the sky,” Ferguson said.
Prices for this technology vary, but Ferguson said the equipment to do broadcast quality TV costs under $20,000. That doesn’t include the satellite time usage.