They bring back fond mem­o­ries

Their ad­vent made life eas­ier for jour­nal­ists

New Straits Times - - News - sureshnst@gmail.com The writer is a cu­ri­ous cat who be­lieves that his cu­rios­ity is go­ing to get the bet­ter of him one day. This Perak-born Tot­ten­ham Hotspurs sup­porter has two decades of journalism un­der his belt

THE re­turn of the Nokia 3310 brings back many mem­o­ries not only to me, but also to other peo­ple, es­pe­cially jour­nal­ists, re­porters and ed­i­tors.

The praises heaped on the orig­i­nal Fin­nish hand­phone, par­tic­u­larly its long-last­ing bat­tery and long-talk time proved to be a boon for jour­nal­ists.

Its af­ford­abil­ity, eas­ier mes­sag­ing sys­tem and the beloved snake game took many jour­nal­ists through the long hours of their job. It was small enough that you could slip it into your pocket, purse or hand­bag.

The hand­phone, in essence, has be­come an ex­ten­sion of a jour­nal­ist in ad­di­tion to his pen, note­book and tape recorder.

The hand­phone of to­day is packed with tonnes of apps, which makes jour­nal­ists and the com­mon man re­call how life used to be be­fore its in­ven­tion.

No, we ( jour­nal­ists and re­porters) were not send­ing out smoke sig­nals to get our com­mu­ni­ca­tion through.

For decades, the fixed phone line, tele­gram, telex, teleprinter and wire scan­ner were the tools used by news or­gan­i­sa­tions, re­porters and jour­nal­ists to send their sto­ries and pic­tures.

How­ever, in the early 1990s, it was the brief­case-sized GSM ATUR phones util­is­ing the 011 line by Telekom Malaysia which saw changes be­ing rung in. De­spite this “mo­bile” phone be­ing the ul­ti­mate sta­tus sym­bol then, jour­nal­ists did not em­brace it whole­heart­edly due to its high costs.

Rather, it was the pager which was the fastest tool of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for jour­nal­ists.

You know when your news ed­i­tor sent out a mes­sage such as “Call the desk now” or “where are you? Call the desk”, sure kena would be the re­ply from the re­porter to his col­leagues from other pub­li­ca­tions.

This was be­fore one rushed off to look for a pub­lic phone booth, which also took some time, as one needed to find one that worked.

The call to the news room was a stom­ach-churn­ing one, as we were not sure what in­struc­tions or ham­mer­ing awaited at the other side of the re­ceiver.

A call cost 10 sen and a bunch of coins was es­sen­tial, es­pe­cially if the con­ver­sa­tion was with your news ed­i­tor. More so, if it in­volved brief­ing him on the lat­est up­date.

The in­tro­duc­tion of pre-paid cards was a god­send. No more bulging pock­ets of coins.

The only jour­nal­ist who ac­tu­ally had a mo­bile phone was the nightcrime man.

The crime desk jour­nal­ist would be the only one equipped with the hu­mon­gous so-called mo­bile phone, which due to its size, bat­tery charger and adapter, al­ways re­quired a back­pack for it to be lugged around in or­der to call from the crime or ac­ci­dent scene.

It was quite a hardy de­vice. On one oc­ca­sion, I was at the re­ceiv­ing end from a col­league and she threw the de­vice at me.

It missed me and hit the wall be­hind me, breaking into pieces. The hor­ror on the faces of my other col­leagues was soon re­placed with amaze­ment when she as­sem­bled the pieces to­gether and the phone was still work­ing.

Smart­phones, eat your heart out. When it comes to be­ing hardy and tough, it was the old handphones which fared bet­ter.

As com­pa­nies be­gan of­fer­ing bet­ter ser­vice and handphones be­came more af­ford­able, re­porters and jour­nal­ists be­gan mi­grat­ing to the new com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice and the pager’s value and im­por­tance went from a must-have de­vice to a pa­per weight.

The then mo­bile phones only had voice call and SMS func­tions.

There was no In­ter­net-en­abled ser­vices, no Google, no cam­era, no video, no map, no What­sApp or Tele­gram. Think­ing back now, I won­der how I man­aged.

Yes, ev­ery­thing the re­porter and jour­nal­ist did then was through the long and hard way. It built char­ac­ter, in­de­pen­dence and made us cre­ative.

This in­cluded find­ing the lo­ca­tion of our as­sign­ment. There was no Google Maps or Waze to help us find our way. It was done the old-fash­ioned way — you asked for directions from ev­ery­body and any­body.

The ex­cuse that you could not find your lo­ca­tion was not ex­actly en­cour­aged.

At the end of the as­sign­ment, you called your desk man­ager to brief him on the sto­ries, as well as the an­gling re­quired.

No search en­gine to check your facts then, and if you got your facts wrong, you knew there would be a hot re­cep­tion from your boss when you saw him face to face.

You also had to go to the of­fice to file your story. Your SMSes... let’s just say they are not your What­sApp and Tele­gram, were not a prac­ti­cal way to send your sto­ries or briefs. You had to call your boss to brief him.

Fast for­ward to two decades later and there is the smart­phone.

Its func­tion­al­ity and use for a jour­nal­ists and re­porters is like hav­ing an of­fice in your pocket. It also saw speed, inter-con­nec­tiv­ity and mul­ti­plat­form­ing as be­ing es­sen­tial in a jour­nal­ist’s phone.

Find­ing your as­sign­ment’s lo­ca­tion via Waze or Google Maps, send­ing your sto­ries and pic­tures via so­cial me­dia plat­form apps such as What­sApp and Tele­gram and other in­no­va­tive ap­proaches have some­what eased a jour­nal­ist’s job.

How­ever, they have also made his job more chal­leng­ing.

The smart­phone of to­day has seen the jour­nal­ist evolve from a mere writer to an all-en­com­pass­ing me­dia prac­ti­tioner in the form of a writer, pho­tog­ra­pher, videog­ra­pher, broad­cast jour­nal­ist, on­line writer and many oth­ers.

It has also in­creased our headaches!

I don’t think Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell would have ever imag­ined that his cre­ation would have made such an im­pact not only on jour­nal­ists but also on the com­mon man, who be­cause of the smart­phone are also dou­bling up as cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists, whether they re­alise it or not.

Just look at the post­ings on Youtube, Face­book and other so­cial me­dia sites.

The crime desk jour­nal­ist would be the only one equipped with the hu­mon­gous so-called mo­bile phone, which due to its size, bat­tery charger and adapter, al­ways re­quired a back­pack for it to be lugged around in or­der to call from the crime or ac­ci­dent scene.

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