Test Kitchen director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Usability expert Jakob Nielsen says that mobile is about where the web was a decade ago (i.e., poised to take off like a rocket).
Steve Buttry, news visionary and Innovation Coach at Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, thinks that news organizations should change to a pursue-mobile-first strategy.
Media consultant Terry Heaton concurs, and wrote in a recent essay:
With the Digital Media Test Kitchen’s inaugural research project, we aim to:
“Local media companies are acting with (mobile) just like we did with the Web back then, and that’s Einstein’s definition of insanity. Otherwise smart people are advising media companies to dip our toes in mobile’s water but not to contribute a lot of resources to the effort, because it will take awhile for advertising to catch up.”
- Help news providers understand how to produce in-depth content in the best ways for the smartphone, by developing innovative techniques and designs, accompanied by solid research demonstrating what works best and has the most impact on the mobile-device user
- Advise news publishers how to leverage the unique qualities of the smartphone to enhance in-depth journalism on the mobile platform (e.g., GPS location, social interaction, taking action and purchasing…)
- And, ultimately, to provide tools (especially templates or modules) that can make news publishers’ lives easier in publishing deep coverage to smartphones and using the devices for effective interaction and participation by readers and journalists
To be clear, this research is for every type of publisher who may use the smartphone platform. While traditional news companies will find our work valuable in implementing mobile strategies (we hope!), the individual blogger or small news start-up entity will benefit just as much. The aim of this research is to further all sorts of news providers as they increasingly publish to the next media-disruptive platform: the smartphone.
Why in-depth or investigative journalism? Wouldn’t that be better for devices with larger screens, like PCs, laptops, netbooks, e-readers, etc.?
It’s true, the small screen of the smartphone — typically 2 x 4 inches on modern touchscreen units like the iPhone or Droid — is hardly ideal as a presentation device for in-depth news content.
But here’s the thing: As smartphones replace feature phones in the mobile industry’s evolution, more and more people carry these devices with them everywhere. They won’t consume all their news on their phones, of course, but increasingly most phone-carrying people in developed parts of the world (especially North America, Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and parts of Southeast Asia) will routinely get some of their news on the smartphones they carry in their pockets or purses.
In-depth, investigative, enterprise, public-interest (whatever term you want to use) news is the most important work that journalists do. It is imperative that it be not only available on news consumers’ phones, but that it be in a form and designed such that it is an effective presentation that makes an impact on readers.
The best enterprise and investigative journalism moves its readers; it activates their anger or concern; it sometimes spurs them to action. Such journalism, even when read on a tiny smartphone screen, should do those things, and more.
That is our research team’s mission. You can read more about the project. And watch this blog, as we’ll be documenting the research process along the way.
Please give the team your feedback and ideas in the open Comments area below.