News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Tips

July 29, 2011

New mobile media toolkit from MobileActive

This week, the nonprofit group MobileActive launched its Mobile Media Toolkit—a great guide for anyone (including journalists) who want to learn how to create media using cell phones, or that works well on mobile devices…

This resource offers tips on tools and techniques, as well as case studies of projects from around the world that have used cell phones for journalism, broadcasting, and citizen media—on a variety of platforms and in a variety of circumstances. This project is funded by a 2009 Knight News Challenge award.

The guide is divided into sections for professional journalists, citizen journalists, media development organizations (groups that foster the development of free and independent media) and news organizations and other content publishers.

Although it’s not listed under the resources for professional journalists, don’t miss the guide to mobile security for citizen journalists—especially if you work with sensitive sources or topics, or are otherwise concerned about surveillance.

While this resource offers a lot of great information about smartphones, it also covers opportunities presented by feature phones (which still comprise the vast majority of phones currently in use in the US and elsewhere). For instance, there are tips on how to set up an SMS text messaging system, and how to do mobile polling.

Several of the cross-links between pages in this guide currently aren’t working. If you encounter one, search for the topic in the site search engine and you’ll probably find it.

Although this content is available on the web, it’s a great example of the kind of content that could—and should—be published as an e-book or as an app.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

August 23, 2012

What “mobile first” means to

Reaching mobile audiences takes thoughtful strategy and execution. Community and niche outlets, or any news startup, might take a page from how one national news curation site delivers mobile news. focuses on curating in real time the top breaking news stories from around the world. The bare-bones website and mobile apps are intended for quick glances—but they have a strong presence in all of the most popular social media (especially @breakingnews on Twitter).

This week, in a blog post, general manager Cory Bergman observed: “While social media gets lots of the attention, the explosion in smartphones and tablets is reinventing the way we consume and interact with content.  We’ve seen it firsthand here at Breaking News: traffic from devices surpassed desktop traffic back in January, doubled it in June and the gap continues to grow.”

He shared these insights and lessons:

  1. “Mobile first” is a mindset. “The key is to start envisioning a product optimized for devices, and work backwards to the desktop web.”
  2. Aim to solve problems. “Leverage the unique form and features of devices to solve problems for people. For us, the stream is the story—which is a mobile-friendly form—with push alerts as a feature.”
  3. Your users can make or break your product. “Imagine a world where users had to click past comments from others about your website before they ever saw your home page. That’s how people discover and download mobile apps.”
  4. Live in the devices world. “How do you start thinking in devices?  Like anything, it helps to immerse yourself.”
  5. Dig into the metrics. “Breaking News’ mobile traffic jumps 15-20% on the weekends. By digging into your mobile metrics, you can learn about consumption patterns and the true momentum of your products.”
  6. Recalibrate goals around mobile. “Most newsrooms measure their digital performance in desktop and social metrics, but for a truly ‘mobile first’ approach, goals should reflect performance on devices.”
  7. Take advantage of mobile tools. “There’s a new crop of mobile companies offering useful tools for user tracking, search engine optimization, A/B testing, advertising optimization and more.”
  8. Experiment and fail (quickly). “Mobile-first companies often iterate on a mobile web version first, grafting the best features into subsequent app releases.”
  9. Recognize that mobile is hard and costly. “Your users have choices.  If your mobile products are slow, clunky and more focused on being ‘scalable’ than ‘delightful,’ you have an uphill battle.”