The Future of Mobile News

The New York Times featured a story in its Tuesday, May 11, Technology section titled "Missouri's Newsy Changes Journalism on the iPad" that claims the "new startup has combined an innovative journalistic model, a low-cost Midwest business strategy and a beautiful touch-screen design to rocket to the Top 10 of News apps for the iPad in iTunes. Remember how the iPad was supposed to change journalism? Newsy could be an example of how it's actually working..."

Quoting from the Times story, here's how works:

Newsy doesn't cover breaking news and it probably never will. Instead, the team waits until a topic is buzzing, then grabs video clips from multiple sources across the political perspective to combine into a short video segment. The resulting content is very clearly incorporating, with extensive attribution, the work of diverse news production teams from around the world. The breadth of editorial vision seems genuinely diverse, too. Clips from Fox News and Democracy Now! will both appear in the same stories at times.

The NY Times story appeared less than a week after Donald Graham, CEO, of the Washington Post Co. told employees of the Post-owned Newsweek magazine that the company was putting the venerable weekly news magazine up for sale.

And the day before the NY Times story, Time Magazine, in a grasping-at-straws maneuver, announced a new advertising guarantee.

Here's what Advertising Age wrote about the Time offer:

One of the industry's biggest publishers, Time Inc., and one of its biggest ad buyers, the Starcom MediaVest Group, are collaborating to develop promises that certain numbers of people will remember ads or take action on them. If a participating marketer's campaign doesn't achieve the promised result, Time Inc. will run free additional ads until it does.

The Time Inc. announcement reminded me that a revival of Neil Simon's only musical, Promises, Promises, is now running on Broadway, or of the old advertising line, "promise her anything, but give her Arpege." Time Inc. is desperately trying to promise results, engagement, more ads -- anything -- to put off the inevitable announcement that Time Warner is putting it up for sale.

Time magazine probably delayed that announcement a few years by going digital sooner than Newsweek did. It has a popular iPhone and iPad app. The well-established Time's iPad app is currently ranked number six, two places higher than the unheralded startup's app.

Time is trying, but its app is based on name recognition and soon the innovative that's all video and that compares coverage of the same story from diverse news sources will stomp the single-sourced Time coverage.

Young people know Fox News and MSNBC are biased, that CNN is numbingly boring, and want to make their minds up themselves and on their mobile devices. Within five years more people will surf and watch video on the web on their mobile devices than on their computers.
While is fulfilling the mobile video news dreams of its consumers, Time is making promises to advertisers, not to its readers. That's the reality of the new media (the consumer is in charge) and the self-imposed tragedy of the old media (the advertisers are in charge).

Is it any wonder is the future of mobile news?