Tech Tools Day 4: Mobile News And Information

Jeremy Rue, a Multimedia Trainer at the Knight Digital Media Center, gave us an overview of the growing use of mobile computing as a platform for news and information.

According to Rue, a Pew study found 78 percent of all Americans have cell phones. And more than 60 percent of U.S. braodband users owned an Internet-enabled phone. Text messaging is exploding. People are making fewer calls on their phones, and sending more text messages.

“Cell phones are getting more capable,” Rue said. And 44 percent of U.S. mobile users say they wish they had a phone with better Internet access.

His biggest advice for any news organization is to get a mobile Web site. He demonstrated a number of Web sites and how they appear on the iPhone, including Amazon.com and the New York Times. On WordPress blogs, there’s a simple plug-in available that will optimize the site for the iPhone.

All the big mobile platforms have created applications stores. So it’s not enough to just optimize your site for a mobile browser. You need to also think about creating mobile applications that sit on the phones, Rue said. Several news organizations created iPhones apps that allowed people to submit audio, text or photos to a special Web site. However, hiring someone to create an app for you can be expensive, because they’re in such demand.

News organizations can also set up systems to set up text alerts about news or events. “I think this is very underutilized,” Rue said. He’d also like to see newsroom embrace text message advertising and find more creative uses. He also recommends exploring such third-party services that will help set up mobile classified listings and other such services.

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