Using video to tell human interest stories: Part 4

In my previous blog I shared some of my fledgling examples of #mojo – telling stories using mobile video. Now you’ve seen my efforts, it’s only fair to share some of the much better examples that are out there which offer genuine inspiration.

The first is one of my favourite examples of story telling. Swedish TV channel SVT wanted to tell the story of Syrian refugees who had fled to Sweden in the search for a better life. I’ve included it here because at its heart are the simple mojo-style videos that capture the stories of each of 200 refugees.

Every one of them speaks in Arabic to camera, giving real resonance and emotion to their words. The project can be viewed here in its entirety in English (the words of each refugee were translated into Swedish and English).

Here is one example from the project, telling the story of Fadi, a father who left his young family behind to forge ahead to find a better place for them all. The backdrop is plain so nothing detracts from Fadi and his heart-rending words.


The project has inspired me to take a similar approach to telling the stories of refugees settling in my home community. I’m sure you can think of projects you could work up in a similar style, focussing on a wide array of story ideas.

I was fortunate to meet one of the project’s co-creators, TV journalist Linnea Heppling, during an event at the BBC Academy in London last year. Linnea is a data journalist who helped to bring to life the data elements of the stories, including tracing the refugees and their journeys from their homeland to Sweden, an incredibly arduous journey of triumph over adversity. She can be reached on Twitter @heppling

Another journalist who leads the #mojo revolution is not a #mojo in the way I’ve previously described the role. John Harris produces #mojo style videos, but with a camera operator in tow doing the filming.

But if you want an example of mojo in action, there are few better.  In this example here, Harris performs as a mojo, walking around Stoke on Trent just prior to the by-election, chatting to people he encountered, then cutting together the footage into a coherent 10 minute feature

Harris features in the footage more visibly than many other mojo creators – he has a clear political agenda to pursue and voices his position, while also giving others the opportunity to voice theirs. It is a conversation, not a monologue.

Harris created a series of videos in the same style ahead of the EU referendum, criss-crossing the country to capture the voices of people in working class communities.


Much of the footage could just as easily be captured on your smartphone. What is less easy to replicate is Harris’s mastery of interviewing, and his ability to encourage his subjects to speak with honesty.

Nick Garnett is another highly admired ‘mobile broadcaster’ and also a generous sharer of information. His website is a must visit for anyone wanting to find out more about creating mojo stories on video and audio, and how to get them on air.

Since 2009 he’s only ever used an iPhone to record, edit and mix audio packages. He uses it to broadcast around 90% of his live pieces on radio. He uses it to edit VT footage and file it back to base and even uses it to broadcast live TV.

Some of the highlights of his worldwide mojo career include covering the refugee crisis during the war in Syria; live broadcasting from Paris after the Charlie Hebdo shootings; from Malta in the aftermath of the deaths of around 800 migrants lost in a boating accident in the Mediterranean in 2015; from Calais as the migrant crisis grew, including live TV from the roadside; and Tunisia after the attack on the beach at Sousse which killed 38 tourists.

A great blog post here for the BBC sums up a frantic 2015 for Nick as a travelling mojo.

Interestingly, despite these examples, research by Dr Adrian Hadland, from University of Stirling, found #mojo style content was still only rarely used by broadcasters…his research showed as little as 2% of broadcast news content was #mojo in style.

“It is being used in mainstream broadcasting quite sparsely. There are other areas like web broadcasting where it will be probably used much more and the potential is much greater. But it seems to me that it is really that it is print and online journalism where it is growing fastest and most progress is being made. I think it is important and it will continue to be important.”

His additional commentary suggests audiences expect a very high, quality of images when viewing broadcast news (especially if viewing on a giant screen or in HD or 4k) which #mojo may not always fulfil; yet on social channels those expectations are considerably lowered.

A full audio podcast by Dr Hadland is available here:

I hope the examples above are all inspirational. Stories you cover at the start of your mojo journey may not be on the scale of Harris or Garnett – but the same guidance, rules and preparation apply, whatever your subject or audience.



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