Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mobile Phones & Journalism Education


80% of Americans now own a cell phone. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans own a smart phone.

Although this isn't much information, what does this mean in immediate terms?

It means that the majority of Americans have access to a mobile device, and nearly a third have access to a mobile device that has full computer capabilities. This in turn means that the majority of people are consuming information in a very different way than ever before.

The mobile device as a media platform is much more immediate and is also much more location-based than any other media.

For as often as we download apps, look up directions and access social media through our phones, how much have student journalists explored the mobile territory?

It is important to look at a mobile device for all of its benefits. What can a smart phone realistically do? What is it not so good at?

But to focus a little better on what multimedia journalism students should already be learning about mobile devices

1. Apps
  • Obviously, everyone knows what an app is. Every person with a smart phone downloads apps all the time. Any business, organization, or other establishment with a heavy presence (and a lot of times even not) has many apps out on the market. EX: Google has apps for almost all of their desktop counterparts.
  • What many students don't know however, is how to create and execute a highly successful app.
  • Apps, despite oftentimes seemingly simple and easy to use, generally have a fair amount of work put into them. It takes good design and user friendly concepts to create a good app. This is important to teach to upcoming multimedia journalism students.
2. Different Services Can Be Offered Via Phone
  • Although many would view mobile devices as limited modes of communication, there are actually an infinite amount of ways to maximize communication.
  • This can happen through emails to phones, texts to phones, implementation of hyper-geographic content, and mobile-specific deals or information.
  • Because so many different services can be offered via mobiles, the content must naturally also evolve. People are purchasing smart phones in increasingly large numbers, so this mobile audience will only continue to grow in the near future. People have already adapted to the cell phone. It is now up to journalists to continue adapting to cell phones.
  • Multimedia journalism students should be able to adapt to these differences.
3. Packages for Mobile Version of Sites
  • As mentioned earlier, as a new and successful medium like mobiles is introduced, an evolution of content or packaging becomes inevitable.
  • Mainly, websites should create their mobile compatible version at the very least. The next step is the app. After that is adding mobile specific content.
  • Some smart phones do not use Adobe Flash, for example. This is a problem that all multimedia journalists should be aware of.
  • Journalists should also not just use the everyday shovelware. This is a sin committed by even the most well-known of news organizations but really should not ever have the chance to happen.
  • Mobile journalism has so many hyper-specific benefits that they should be fully used, and not just stocked full with junk already sitting on the desktop page or physical newspaper.
As multimedia journalists, it is important to stay on top of trends. Currently, mobile is where everything seems to be going. Increased traffic is to be found, as well as many opportunities to connect with readers in a way never thought before.

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