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Tablet-only, mobile-first News orgs native to new platforms coming soon » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism

Tablet-only, mobile-first News orgs native to new platforms coming soon » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism

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Published by Luciana Moherdaui

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Published by: Luciana Moherdaui on Dec 21, 2010
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05/12/2014

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Series:Series:Series:Series:Predictions for Journalism 2011
Tablet-only, mobile-first: News orgs native to new platformscoming soon
By Vadim Lavrusik 
/ today / 11 a.m.
Editor’s NoteEditor’s NoteEditor’s NoteEditor’s Note: We’re wrapping up 2010 by asking some of the smartest people in journalism what the new year will bring.
Here are 10 predictions from Vadim Lavrusik, community manager and socialstrategist at Mashable. Mashable, where these predictions first appeared, covers theheck out of the world of social media and have an honored place in our iPhone app.
In many ways, 2010 was finally the year of mobile for news media, and especially so if you consider the iPad amobile device. Many news organizations like The Washington Post and CNN included heavy social mediaintegrations into their apps, opening the devices beyond news consumption.In 2011, the focus on mobile will continue to grow with the launch of mobile- and iPad-only news products, butthe greater focus for news media in 2011 will be on re-imagining its approach to the open social web. The focuswill shift from searchable news to social and share-able news, as social media referrals close the gap on searchtraffic for more news organizations. In the coming year, news media’s focus will be affected by the personalizationof news consumption and social media’s influence on journalism.
Leaks and journalism: a new kind of media entity
In 2010, we saw the rise of WikiLeaks through its many controversial leaks. With each leak, the organizationlearned and evolved its process in distributing sensitive classified information. In 2011, we’ll see severalgovernments prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in disseminating classified documents andsome charges will have varying successes. But even if WikiLeaks itself gets shut down, we’re going to see the riseof “leakification” in journalism, and more importantly we’ll see a number of new media entities, not just mirrorsites, that will model themselves to serve whistle blowers — WikiLeaks copycats of sorts. Toward the end of thisyear, we already saw Openleaks, Brusselsleaks, and Tradeleaks. There will be many more, some of which will befocused on niche topics.Just like with other media entities, there will be a new competitive market and some will distinguish themselvesand rise above the rest. So how will success be measured? The scale of the leak, the organization’s ability todistribute it and its ability or inability to partner with media organizations. Perhaps some will distinguishthemselves by creating better distribution platforms through their own sites by focusing on the technology and, of course, the analysis of the leaks. The entities will still rely on partnerships with established media to distributeand analyze the information, but it may very well change the relationship whistleblowers have had with mediaorganizations until now.
More media mergers and acquisitions
At the tail end of 2010, we saw the acquisition of TechCrunch by AOL and the Newsweek merger with The DailyBeast. In some ways, these moves have been a validation in the value of new media companies and blogs thathave built an audience and a business.But as some established news companies’ traditional sources of revenue continue to decline, while new mediacompanies grow, 2011 may bring more media mergers and acquisitions. The question isn’t if, but who? I think thatust like this year, most will be surprises.
Tablet-only and mobile-first news companies
In 2010, as news consumption began to shift to mobile devices, we saw news organizations take mobile
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seriously. Aside from launching mobile apps across various mobile platforms, perhaps the most notable exampleis News Corp’s plan to launch The Daily, an iPad-only news organization that is set to launch early 2011. Eachnew edition will cost $0.99 to download, though Apple will take 30%. But that’s not the only hurdle, as thepublication relies on an iPad-owning audience. There will have been 15.7 million tablets sold worldwide in 2010,and the iPad represents roughly 85% of that. However, that number is expected to more than double in 2011.Despite a business gamble, this positions news organizations like The Daily for growth, and with littlecompetition, besides news organizations that repurpose their web content. We’ve also seen the launch of an iPad-only magazine with Virgin’s Project and of course the soon-to-launch News.me social news iPad application fromBetaworks.But it’s not just an iPad-only approach, and some would argue that the iPad isn’t actually mobile; it’s leisurely(yes, Mark Zuckerberg). In 2011, we’ll see more news media startups take a mobile-first approach to launchingtheir companies. This sets them up to be competitive by distributing on a completely new platform, where usersare more comfortable with making purchases. We’re going to see more news companies that reverse the typicalmodel of website first and mobile second.
Location-based news consumption
In 2010, we saw the growth of location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR. Even Facebookentered the location game by launching its Places product, and Google introduced HotPot, a recommendationengine for places and began testing it in Portland. The reality is that only 4% of online adults use such serviceson the go. My guess is that as the information users get on-the-go info from such services, they’ll becomes morevaluable and these location-based platforms will attract more users.Part of the missing piece is being able to easily get geo-tagged news content and information based on your GPSlocation. In 2011, with a continued shift toward mobile news consumption, we’re going to see news organizationsimplement location-based news features into their mobile apps. And of course if they do not, a startup will enterthe market to create a solution to this problem or the likes of Foursquare or another company will begin to pull ingeo-tagged content associated with locations as users check in.
Social vs. search
In 2010, we saw social media usage continue to surge globally. Facebook alone gets 25% of all U.S. pageviewsand roughly 10% of Internet visits. Instead of focusing on search engine optimization (SEO), in 2011 we’ll seesocial media optimization become a priority at many news organizations, as they continue to see social close thegap on referrals to their sites.Ken Doctor, author of 
Newsonomics
and news industry analyst at Outsell, recently pointed out that socialnetworks have become the fastest growing source of traffic referrals for many news sites. For many, social siteslike Facebook and Twitter only account for 10% to 15% of their overall referrals, but are number one in growth.For news startups, the results are even more heavy on social. And of course, the quality of these referrals is oftenbetter than readers who come from search. They generally yield more pageviews and represent a more loyalreader than the one-off visitors who stumble across the site from Google.
The death of the “foreign correspondent”
What we’ve known as the role of the foreign correspondent will largely cease to exist in 2011. As a result of business pressures and the roles the citizenry now play in using digital technology to share and distribute newsabroad, the role of a foreign correspondent reporting from an overseas bureau “may no longer be central to howwe learn about the world,” according to a recent study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of of Journalism. Thelight in the gloomy assessment is that there is opportunity in other parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa,where media is expanding as a result of “economic and policy stability,” according to the report. In 2011, we’ll seemore news organizations relying heavily on stringers and, in many cases, social content uploaded by the citizenry.
The syndication standard and the ultimate curators
Syndication models will be disrupted in 2011. As Clay Shirky recently predicted, more news outlets will get out of the business of re-running the same story on their site that appeared elsewhere. Though this is generally true,the approach to syndication will vary based on the outlet. The reality is that the content market has becomehighly fragmented, and if content is king, then niche is certainly queen. Niche outlets, which were once curators of original content produced by established organizations, will focus more on producing original content. While
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established news brands, still under pressure to produce a massive amount of content despite reduced staff numbers, will become the ultimate curators. This means they will feature just as much content, but insteadthrough syndication partners.You already see this taking place on sites like CNN.com or NYTimes.com, both of whose technology sectionsfeature headlines and syndicated content from niche technology publications. In this case, it won’t only be thereader demand for original content that drives niche publications to produce more original content, but also itsrelationship with established organizations that strive to uphold the quality of their content and the credibility of their brand. Though original content will be rewarded, specialized, niche publications could benefit the most fromthe disruption.
Social storytelling becomes reality
In 2010, we saw social content get weaved into storytelling, in some cases to tell the whole story and in othercases to contextualize news events with curation tools such as Storify. We also saw the rise of social newsreaders, such as Flipboard and Pulse mobile apps and others.In 2011, we’ll not only see social curation as part of storytelling, but we’ll see social and technology companiesgetting involved in the content creation and curation business, helping to find the signal in the noise of information.We’ve already heard that YouTube is in talks to buy a video production company, but it wouldn’t be a surprise forthe likes of Twitter or Facebook to play a more pivotal role in harnessing its data to present relevant news andcontent to its users. What if Facebook had a news landing page of the trending news content that users arediscussing? Or if Twitter filtered its content to bring you the most relevant and curated tweets around newsevents?
News organizations get smarter with social media
In 2010, news organizations began to take social media more seriously and we saw many news organizations hireeditors to oversee social media. USA Today recently appointed a social media editor, while The New York Timesdropped the title, and handed off the ropes to Aron Pilhofer’s interactive news team.The Times’ move to restructure its social media strategy, by going from a centralized model to a decentralizedone owned by multiple editors and content producers in the newsroom, shows us that news organizations arebecoming more sophisticated and strategic with their approach to integrating social into the journalism process.In 2011, we’re going to see more news organizations decentralize their social media strategy from one person tomultiple editors and journalists, which will create an integrated and more streamlined approach. It won’t just beone editor updating or managing a news organization’s process, but instead news organizations will work toward amodel in which each journalist serves as his or her own community manager.
The rise of interactive TV
In 2010, many people were introduced to Internet TV for the first time, as buzz about the likes of Google TV, iTV,Boxee Box and others proliferated headlines across the web. In 2011, the accessibility to Internet TV willtransform television as we know it in not only the way content is presented, but it will also disrupt the dominancetraditional TV has had for years in capturing ad dollars.Americans now spend as much time using the Internet as they do watching television, and the reality is that half are doing both at the same time. The problem of being able to have a conversation with others about a showyou’re watching has existed for some time, and users have mostly reacted to the problem by hosting informalconversations via Facebook threads and Twitter hashtags. Companies like Twitter are recognizing the problem andfinding ways to make the television experience interactive.It’s not only the interaction, but the way we consume content. Internet TV will also create a transition for thoseused to consuming video content through TVs and bring them to the web. That doesn’t mean that flat screens aregoing away; instead, they will only become interconnected to the web and its many content offerings.
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard1 Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138Phone: 617-495-2237, fax: 617-495-8976
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