The top apps for journalists: Spring 2017

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 the apps they liked in Spring 2017.

Adobe Photoshop Fix

☀☀☀☀ (4/5)

Editing photographs on your mobile device is easy with Adobe Photoshop Fix. Fix can remove unwanted “litter” from photos. Simply select and cut the object you want to remove and a combination of surrounding pixels will fill the empty space. Fix will save these edits into layers so that the product is dimensional instead of flat. These images can be transported across the Creative Cloud for further use. These features may be great for family photos, but journalists who alter their photos can get into big trouble.  Fix is free and available for both Apple and Android devices. — Dillion Eddie

Amaze VR

☀☀☀☀ (4/5)

Amaze VR is a social media virtual reality app that works through YouTube to allow users to follow the lives of various vloggers and adventurers. Content includes games, such as people playing H.O.R.S.E. The app uses a feed design similar to Twitter. Because the app feeds off YouTube,  journalists who post there may reach a large audience. When I use VR, I want to be transported to the location, and Amaze makes it so that anyone can upload an adventure. — Connor Van Siclen


☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

Bigvu is the future of mobile reporting. With only a phone needed to record a video package, journalists will enjoy this app. Bigvu allows you to record video, use a teleprompter, share to all social media and more. Available free on both Google Play and the App Store, IJNet’s review shows the features and functionality in detail. Journalists can use this as a breaking news tool. I plan to keep using it myself. — Cole Feinbloom


☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

HelloTalk is part social media and part translator. It helps people learn languages through conversations with native speakers. You can connect through chat, free voice calls or a public posting board. Translate, correct grammar and transcribe audio to text (or vice versa) within a text conversation or post. Not feeling chatty? You can translate text without having to talk to someone. For journalists, this app can provide a great connection to sources in foreign countries. The app is available on both iTunes and Google Play. — Leah Soto

Journalism Dictionary SMART Guide

☀☀☀☀☀ (5/5)

Journalism Dictionary SMART Guide defines more than 1,000 journalism terms from 13 categories. Just hit play to hear a definition. Quizzes can be taken to test your knowledge. I discovered the word ‘Flash’ in the Radio category. Definition: “short news story on a new event.” User reviews praise the app (one of several journalism dictionary apps out there). It also offers in-app purchases. For US$2.99 you receive 800 more terms. The app is free, available on iPhones. — Julia Bashaw

Signal / Open Whisper Systems

☀☀☀☀ (4/5)

Fear of lack of privacy should never stop good journalism. Privacy is never an issue with Open Whisper Systems. The tool, called Signal in the app stores, encrypts both text messages and phone calls — so long as you use their app (at Google Play and the App Store). Edward Snowden (former National Security Agency contractor) and Laura Poitras (noted filmmaker and journalist) are well-known users. With their backing, any journalist should feel comfortable using this tool to communicate with sources privately. — Ben Jacobs


☀☀☀☀ (4/5)

Making professional quality videos from your iPhone is easy with VideoliciousVideolicious Academy provides users with “video recipes” and tips. My favorite is a recipe showing how to create a video business card, helpful to anyone in the job market. The app claims millions of users, including major news companies. Covering policy changes within an education system but have no experience on this beat? No problem! The academy has specific tips for journalists in your situation. The basic Videolicious app is free from the App Store, but special features must be purchased.  — Dillion Eddie

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Pixel Fantasy.