According to a recent Nielson study, it is estimated that one in two people will own a smartphone by the end of 2011. This rise in smartphones shows more than a consumer preference. Gartner Inc., a technology research company, predicted earlier this year that smartphones will become the most popular devices people use to access the web by 2013. This study reflects a growing trend in phone preference but also foreshadows the future of multimedia journalism.
“Everything is on your phone,” said Mindy McAdams, author of “Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages.” She argues there are only benefits to more people using smartphones.
However, smartphones are just one example of an interactive device that has challenged not only the traditional forms of media distribution but also the traditional form of narrative.
Yet Pamela Chen, senior communications coordinator at Open Society Institute-NY asked how the audience will change as the content and other elements change to display content for a three-inch screen on a smartphone or other mobile device. The demand for smaller screens and multipurpose devices has been an “intense” progression and with it comes a new audience.
Multimedia tools provide reporters with a better means to communicate and narrate events to their audiences. Broadcast or print platforms allow for only limited information; multimedia tools have broken the barriers of storytelling.
Within the dialogue on the future of multimedia journalism, there is a theme emphasizing that storytelling is the main and crucial element. To do that, it involves taking a look at where we have been and where we are going.
The Digital Media Test Kitchen offers 15 suggestions for the best ways to interact with new media. The recommendations include inform the consumer how long it will take to absorb the information, enable comments and, obviously, create mobile centered content:
A key tenet of the group’s work is the recognition that the smartphone represents not merely a smaller digital screen on which to present (or shovel) existing news from other media platforms, but a larger range of opportunities, even for in-depth news packages: presentation, personalization, real-time geographic news and ad targeting, interaction, user engagement and action, and mobile-original content and features. There’s a lot of power packed into the smartphone’s small, portable form.
“The future is much like the past,” said Keith Jenkins, supervising senior producer for multimedia at NPR. Journalism has always included text and visuals, he says, but “the question is, what’s the mix that’s most effective?”
While we do not know what the future may hold, we are certain it will involve smart phones and other forms of interactive technology. This interaction will change the way media is distributed. Storytelling faces challenges with the new distribution but is by no means defeated by it.
— This podcast episode is part of a series on multimedia journalism created by students at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. Audio clips from the Multimedia Standards grid were used with permission.