6 months ago

12 Handy Bits Of Gear To Make Your Journo Life That Little Bit Easier

Alex Ekong

Staff Writer

We salute you, journos out in the field. And those of you deep diving through FOI requests. And those of you currently polishing off the seventh piece of the day. Basically, we’re in awe of the whole damn lot of you. 

There are so many pieces to putting together an amazing story – and it takes some serious skills to get it right. Luckily though, these days there’s more help than ever before, thanks to our good pals science and technology.

And what’s more, if you’re a freelancer, you can very much whack them on your tax-deductible expenses.

So, whether you’re an intrepid news reporter, a keen-eyed photo journo, or an Instagram-savvy whizz-kid, here’s our pick of the best value gear right now. Oh, and some incredibly beautiful notebooks. Because everyone loves notebooks.

All prices were correct at the time we published this. We’ll do our best to keep it up to date, but please don’t shout at us if we slip up.

Say goodbye to frayed cables. (Image Credit: Amazon)

An ‘Unbreakcable’ Phone Cable Which Has Been Bend And Load Tested

It’s the luck of the draw that never goes your way. You know you’ve got about sixteen iPhone cables in your rucksack, but whichever one you pick, it’s always the one which has been bent a bit too much to work. So’s the next one. And the next one.

Not so with this UNBREAKcable Charger which claims to have been tested with loads of up to 50kg and bend tested to 95-degrees more than 8,000 times.

There’s also a wild picture showing the exact make-up of the inside of the wire and the polyester coating, a promise of 20 percent faster charging, and a three-year guarantee. Phew.

Grab the iPhone version here for £8.99 or a two-pack Android charger for £6.99.

A Super Flexible Mini Tripod With A Remote Shutter

You can get the shot remotely. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Even if you’re not a video journalist by trade, more and more gigs are expecting you to take a multi-media approach to stories, or want you to put in a video as part of your job application.

Perfect for pieces to camera or capturing a quick interview (basically anything as long as it’s static) this MUYOS flexible mini tripod works for all smartphones, and can take up to 1kg of weight, which would be the weightiest phone in the world.

Plus, it also comes bundled with a Bluetooth remote shutter that works up to a distance of 30ft.

It’s not only goodbye to self-timers, but also wobbly shots thanks to it’s no slip grip.

Take a look now, currently priced at just £9.99.

An Truly Incredible And Useful Notebook With A Tiger On

Zoom in for the skin detail. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Hello, have you seen the colour of this? You’re never going to lose this at the bottom of your bag. It’s so delightfully bright and orange and it’s got a tiger on the front. A real-life tiger.

Also, if you zoom in on the faux leather covering, it’s wonderfully flecked, almost like you imagine a tiger’s coat would be and it’s good paw prints on the inside. Though, just to stress it is vegan, FSC certified, and made by the oldest paper company in Lebanon.

If tigers aren’t quite your thing, there’s also options for a blue whale, brown bear, or a green deer.

We should also add that it is actually pretty useful – it comes with a pen holder so you’re not scrabbling about while you’re on the phone, as well as a pocket for receipts and general bumf at the back.

Get yours here, currently at £15.95.

A Super Fancy Machine That Records Your Phone Calls Via Bluetooth

No more putting the phone on speaker and recording off another. (Image Credit: Amazon)

We’re calling it the call-recording conundrum. You know the feels. It’s a phone interview, you’re taking notes, but you don’t want to miss anything. Perhaps you’ve tried a shonky recording app, or maybe you’ve found a second phone and recorded your phone on speaker phone. No more.

This elegant, if a bit pricey, piece of tech, offers the perfect wireless solution. The RecorderGear PR200 works via Bluetooth with pretty much any compatible phone and records both sides of the call too.

The bonus is that it can also be used as a dictaphone, meaning you’re sorted for face-to-face interviews, panels, and press conferences – and it’s one less thing to lose in your bag.

Other vital stats include that it comes with 4GB of memory and 12-hours of battery life.

Lust over it here, from £79

A Solid Dictaphone That Really Will Do The Job

A strong, steady, dictaphone friend. (Image Credit: Amazon)

If you’d like a slightly more thrifty option, then this Olympus WS-852 could be for you – though you still might want to whack it on the birthday list.

Aside from the high-quality voice recording, the standout feature here is the whopping 112 hours of battery life. That’s more than four days of solid recording. Which would be a hell of a long interview.

If you’re looking to record phone interviews too you can also pair it with one of their telephone pick-up microphones for about £15. Or you can old-school it like we do, and use a wire from your phone headphone jack as a line in, and put some headphones into the dictaphone. We’re nothing if not inventive.

Here’s the dictaphone, currently on sale for £43.24

A Teeny Tiny Kagool That Will Actually Keep You Dry

Whack it in the bag. Keep dry. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Okay, we never said we were here for high fashion, but we presume you probably want to stay dry and avoid the fun of standing under the office hand dryers on your return from the great outdoors.

If you’re running out of a newsroom to grab a story, or it’s one of those spring days where you just can’t quite tell what’s gonna happen, a jacket like this one should sort you out.

This one has has pockets, a hood, and is lightweight enough to just fold it up, whack it in your bag, and forget about it until you really need it. Plus it comes in nine colours, some a little bit less appealing than others. Olive green, anyone?

You can pick up one here, from just £6.15

The Backpack You Can Actually Fit All Of This Stuff In

Can to play ‘does this all fit in here’. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Alright, we’ve thrown a lot of stuff your way so far. A lot of which you’ll need to put somewhere. This pretty nifty backpack from Matein, is apparently Amazon’s Choice, whatever that means.

It’s made of breathable fabric, so there’s allegedly less sweating involved. It also has separate compartments for your laptop and other gadgets, and comes with a built in charging cable so you can easily hook your phone or tablet up to a power bank.

There’s also an anti-theft pocket on the back, so you can be truly confident no rouge journo will steal your scoop.

Take a look here, it’s just £21.99 and comes in two sizes

The Book Every Journalist Needs To Own

Your trusty guide to all things the law has to offer. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Riveting, we know, but no one wants to end up on the wrong side of the law, and McNae’s Essential Essential Law for Journalists is pretty much the holy book of everything.

We’re not suggesting you need to pour over the thing nightly before bed, but it’s a genuinely accessible guide to almost any problem you might have in the newsroom. We know for a fact that this award-winning piece from London Student, for example, was pretty much legally cleared by reading through this book with a fine tooth-comb.

Also, even if that’s not selling it for you, it’s quite satisfying to highlight and annotate in a range of different colours, which also has the bonus effect of your colleges thinking you’re particularly well versed. We know, we’re party animals.

Get a copy to leave on your bedside table for less than £17.

A Power Bank To Banish A Dying Phone

Goodbye dead batteries. (Image Credit: Amazon)

Our only issue with power banks is remembering to charge them up in the first place.

Sure, they can really save you when you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no charge, but you really have to make sure you’re on it.

This said, the chances are you’ve got way more self-discipline than us, and we can’t stress enough how much of a game changer these can be. This Anker power bank is a sturdy keeper, offering one of the smallest, lightest, and fastest charges on the market.

This 10,000 mAh bank will power up your iPhone 8 more than three times from flat to full, and two and half on your Samsung Galaxy S8.

Choose from four colours for £20.99. 

A Rig That Will Take Your Smartphone Videos To The Next Level

For the video professionals amongst us (Image Credit: Amazon)

So, it’s worth stressing here that for most of us there’s no reason why you can’t do everything you could ever dream of with a decent smartphone camera these days.

We don’t want to sound like those dudes on the internet, but you’d be amazed at what you can achieve with a tripod and a fairly decent mic, and wouldn’t want anyone to think they had to splurge out on this kinda stuff.

This said, for video journalists who want a bit of compact kit to take their work to the next level, this Movo Rig is an affordable option to bypass the whole DSLR thing, allowing you to achieve top-notch professional video on your phone.

It comes with a stereo microphone, padded grip, and a wrist strap, and can be pretty much fitted onto any smartphone in the market.

Available now for £52.95.

A Ring Light To Make Your Vlogging Footage Pristine

So, that’s how they look so darn good. (Image Credit: Amazon)

While we’re here and talking about video stuff, have you ever looked at all those make up tutorials on YouTube and wondered how all those vloggers look so pristine and perfectly lit on camera? Well, they aren’t just born with it, and nor is it Maybelline. Scandal.

Ring lights like these are actually pretty affordable – and are crucial for getting the right lighting every time you’re doing takes to camera.

If vlogging is your business, or you find yourself often recording pieces to camera or sit downs with others, one of these could be the fix you’re looking for.

Get one here for £23.99.

A Mic To Stop Podcast Costs ‘Snowballing’

Don’t let your podcast costs get out of hand. (Image Credit: Amazon)

And, finally, to round off our tech tour, it’s worth mentioning podcasting. It’s one of those disciplines that can quickly swallow up all of your free time and available funds – mainly just through having to get a bunch of equipment.

But, if you’re starting out, forget the frills to begin with and start off by getting a good quality microphone. Don’t believe us? Here’s what the experts had to say about it.

This Snowball USB microphone focuses on giving you crystal clear audio quality for a price that it’s too far up the charts. And it looks pretty cool and retro too.

Have a look here, they’re £44.59.

Have you found a low-cost gadget that has revolutionised your journalism? We’d love to know about it for a new gadgets series. Drop us a line on hello@journoresources.org.uk.

Please note, this article contains affiliate links. If you do make a purchase we may receive a small commission – this goes back into funding this site and supporting more people succeed in journalism.

Image Credit: Fauxels / Unsplash