Laptop, Cigarette Lighter Aid Reporter in Libya

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Television journalists used to have to contend with big, bulky camera equipment and satellite uplinks — the "portable" satellite phones used in the first Gulf War could weigh as much as 40 pounds, and the cameras were sometimes even heavier. 

How times have changed. Recently Sky News reporter Alex Crawford showed that you can roll in to a war zone with a laptop and a small camera and compete with the biggest, ostensibly better-equipped outfits such as the BBC. She used a Macbook Pro laptop and a cigarette lighter-powered satellite uplink. The footage she collected was edited on the spot.

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Smaller digital cameras with smaller power requirements have eliminated the need for the traditional TV truck in many places. While Crawford and other reporters still have cameramen, it's a lot easier to run alongside a military detachment than it was. Satellite phone technology has become a lot smaller as well.  The brick-like profile of the old Iridium phones has been replaced by smaller (if still large for a mobile phone) descendants.

It isn't just reporters for major news organizations that have taken advantage of communications technology. In March, as the civil war was getting heating up, the Libyan government tried to cut off the Internet. Within a month, a Libyan-American telecom executive, Ousama Abushagur, helped to build a phone network in rebel-held areas that bypassed the government-controlled system.

Video from Sky News via YouTube