The top apps for journalists from 2016

by Eric Newton
Oct 30, 2018 in Digital Journalism

Students from Eric Newton's Innovation Tools class at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication find, test, apply and critique news tools and techniques.

Here you’ll find their brief reviews of apps they looked at from a journalistic point of view. The more suns (☀), the better the app.

The opinions expressed are the views of the authors alone. But since they are digital natives who want to tell stories, we think their opinions matter. Every generation comes of age with a form of media in ascendance, and that generation ultimately takes over and defines the new media.

Here’s a look at their favorite apps in 2016:


☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

Within is a professional VR platform, home to high-quality and captivating video. The app, formerly Vrse, hosts everything from a Mr. Robot TV promo to a New York Times magazine project. You can see a U2 music video, Saturday Night Live tapings or a variety of TED Talks. The Within app runs well, with bright, organized features, including options to stream or download videos. It is a great showcase for immersive storytelling. — Kelsey Hess

Adobe Spark Post

☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

Adobe Spark Post is perfect for creating simple text overlays on pictures for upload directly from iPhones. It allows you to easily post your photos on social media. You can customize fonts, colors, shapes, spacing, opacity, animation and more. The app also can compile a palette for you to use based on the colors in the photo. Journalists can use Spark Post to blast out news as it is happening or to promote stories. Link this app to your Adobe Creative Cloud and seamlessly work with all your Adobe content. — Hailey Koebrick

Adobe Spark Page

☀☀☀☀ (4/5)

Adobe Spark Page creates sophisticated looking, high-quality web pages directly on iPhones. It is user-friendly and simple in design. Give your project a name and instantly start adding pictures and content. “Glideshows” allow full screen pictures to stack one after another with text that rolls as you scroll down the site. A downside: web pages are hosted only on the Adobe Spark server. But you can add links to additional sites. Journalists could use an Adobe Spark Page as a portfolio site to display their work. — Hailey Koebrick

Cam Scanner

☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

Cam Scanner is a must-have app for any journalist. After seeing how easily a slightly blurry and dimly lit picture of a document was quickly transformed into a comprehensive and searchable PDF file, I had one of those jaw-dropping moments. Before using Cam Scanner, I didn’t know an app like this existed. I don’t think many journalists know about it either. This app is perfect for anyone in a rush to collect information from documents, like public records. I would call this a life-saver for journalists seeking information from documents. — Melissa Szenda


☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

One of my favorite apps was Cogi, which records the highlights of conversations. This simplifies the transcription process for journalists – especially when it comes to long interviews. It really takes to heart the idea of innovation, because it is a new method that improves current practices. I have found it's intuitive and easy to learn. Even those skeptical of technology can benefit from it. — Victoria Grijalva

Google Translate

☀☀☀☀ (4/5)

Google Translate allows users to move seamlessly between a multitude of languages. The free app can copy translation to your clipboard or share it through iOS apps such as Messages, Mail, iCloud Drive and the Note apps. Useful features: speech-to-text narration, live translation with your camera and handwritten text translations. You can download an offline translation file, as well as ‘star’ translations for future reference. Journalists can use this to help close the language with sources, or assist in communication when visiting other countries. This app is a versatile resource, though the translations themselves need some improvement. — Hailey Koebrick

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Brad Frost.