'Jeans journo' Omars set out to democratise news

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With his wife Sumaiya, former HT Media trainer Yusuf Omar is at the leading edge of mobile journalism with tools including emerging Snapchat spectacles.

"I don't care what device you film on, and I don't think the audience does - they just expect a good story," he says.

Purist definitions of mojo content as shot, edited and published from a smartphone are not for him, and Omar says it is more about a single person able to shoot, edit and be on the run: "I often call myself a jeans journalist, all the equipment I need fits in my jeans."

It's a passion shared by Sumaiya, who launched mobile channel HashtagOurStories a year ago after a career in digital payment systems. Omar got into mobile reporting after finding himself in the middle of the first Arab Spring movement during a 2010 hitch-hiking journey through Africa and Egypt. Since then, he has travelled to the Congo and Vietnam, chasing stories for eNews Channel Africa, and shared skills with more than 700 staff at the Hindustan Times, before moving to London to work for CNN.

HashtagOurStories - which they co-own - is much about the democratisation of news as people engage with current events and share information, a trend he believes will grow with mobile usage. Allowing users to share opinions and stories will give journalists a plethora of perspectives that may not have previously been available.

"Eventually we can have news and social channels in absolutely every language in the world without distributing a single camera, without having a single camera person out there," he says.

"All mobile journalism, in its true sense, is the democratisation of media, the ability for everybody on the street to be able to tell a story, and I believe that if we can listen to those voices and use technology to better aggregate, we will effectively have more sources. Obviously, more perspectives, more sources, more cameras can only lead to more truth."

At NewsMediaWorks' one-day Inform News Media Summit conference in Sydney on Wednesday (September 6), Yusuf Omar will share not only the passion, but his knowledge of evolving technologies including wearables such as Snapchat spectacles, used to capture video for social platforms such as Facebook Live, Periscope and Snapchat. The event is free to members, with some tickets still available for non-members, and registration essential.

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