Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Laura Jedeed

Laura Jedeed

Independent journalist

in journalist, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an independent journalist based in Portland, Oregon. I write articles and make videos, but most of my work happens on Twitter dot com (@LauraJedeed). I go undercover to far right rallies and live-tweet descriptions and footage of what's happening. If you saw the video of the crying woman whose husband got fired for intimidating a journalist: I'm that journalist. That was a very strange period of time.

I also document Black Lives Matter protests in Portland and have done so since last June. I took footage all through the Fed War in summer, right through the hundred-day mark, and continue to document these protests today.

At this point, most major news organizations have embedded my tweets in their articles at least a couple times. It doesn't pay my bills, but it definitely fuels my ego. Articles, sold footage, and donations keep me afloat. I still can't believe I'm lucky enough to be able to do this full time.

What hardware do you use?

Every time I go to a protest I'm at risk of having my equipment broken, either by the police or by the far right if I'm discovered. My motto for media equipment is therefore "cheap and replaceable." I take all my footage with a Google Pixel 3a XL, an older budget phone with a camera that punches way above its weight class. It's also one of the largest phones on the market, which helps me type quickly while I'm running or getting shot at with crowd control munitions. I carry an Anker Powercore 20100 in case I need to quickly recharge my phone in the middle of the action.

I use a Miufly 1296P HD Waterproof Police Body Camera for backup footage in case I miss something really important and also as a way to document in case I should be attacked while reporting. Unfortunately, these are things I get to think about now.

My protective gear, almost all of which was donated to me by extremely generous people, is by far the most expensive part of my setup. A generous friend gifted me an Avon M50; a military-grade gas mask that helps protect me from things like tear gas and HC smoke (which can cause severe injury and death if inhaled in large concentrations). This protection lets me get footage from angles that would otherwise be both unsafe and very painful. I wear Level IV plate from Shellback Tactical to most actions now, which can stop up to a .556 round (AR-15), in a 511 Tactical plate carrier. I also wear an Army surplus Kevlar helmet to protect myself from head injuries - a lot of protesters and journalists alike have suffered concussions as a result of either impact munitions or being thrown to the ground by cops, so this is really important.

Once I get home from the action, I process my footage and write articles on my Lenovo Yoga 730 13IKB. I back all my footage up onto my 10TB WD Elements Desktop hard drive, which I connect (along with my other USB devices) using the Atolla 7-Port USB Data Hub Splitter. I record voiceovers and do podcast appearances with my Fifine USB Podcast Condenser Microphone. When I do video podcasts or Zoom interviews, I use my Logitech C920x Pro HD Webcam to look my best.

And where would I be without my Ovente portable electric glass kettle, which I use to make a truly astonishing amount of tea whilst writing?

And what software?

I'd be lost without Twitter: both the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. For processing videos I've historically used Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2020, but after one too many crashes I recently invested in Adobe Premiere Pro. I'm still getting used to the new interface, but it seems like a much more powerful program and I think my process will be incredibly more streamlined once I learn the software. For image processing I use GIMP, a free program that works as well for my purposes as anything you could pay for.

I have an unlimited data plan with Google Fi, which allows me to back up videos in the field to my Google One account (2TB). That way, even if my phone gets smashed, I won't lose everything I captured and I'll be able to quickly restore all my accounts and apps on my replacement phone.

When writing, I use either Microsoft Word or Google Docs - usually Google Docs, since I can then access my work from anywhere at any time. I publish a lot of my articles on Medium, which is a great resource for people who want to write whatever they want and have enough of a social media following to drive traffic to self-published work.

What would be your dream setup?

There are a few things I'd upgrade given unlimited funds. Based on reviews, I'd preorder an Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, which has an incredible camera and is somehow even bigger than the Google Pixel 3aXl (perfect for my giant hands). I've dreamed of a large monitor for video work - maybe an LG 32-Inch QHD (2560 x 1440), nothing super fancy. I wouldn't mind a lighter Kevlar helmet with a GoPro mount, the more cameras the better I always say.

Honestly, though, I'm pretty happy with my relatively low-tech setup. The nice thing about primarily dealing in words is that all you really need is a device with a keyboard. Everything else is just gravy.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.