By Nathan Hurst
MU News Bureau
Columbia, Mo. (May 6, 2010) — This January, Gartner, Inc., a leading information technology research and advisory company, announced their prediction that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. Clyde Bentley, an associate professor of convergence journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism and a Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, has recognized this trend and urges newspapers adapt to the changing technology before they are left behind.
“In the next three years, the whole newspaper industry needs to move its emphasis from the static Web to the mobile Web – from 17-inch displays to 3-inch displays,” Bentley said. “If Gartner’s prediction is accurate, newspapers really have just 18-24 months to position themselves as the leading news content provider for mobile platforms.”
“We must put our mobile strategy efforts in high gear. The alternative is to let the independent entrepreneurs and people with more interest in quick cash than service to society take over our business again.”Clyde Bentley
In order to help newspapers and other media organizations streamline their transition from computer-based Web content to mobile phone-compatible content, Bentley has devised a timeline to assure mobile viability by 2013.
Bentley’s timeline ranges from designating mobile editors this spring, to having reporters equipped with phones that can capture image, video and sound and deliver it to the home office by next winter and niche news by next spring. By following his timeline, newspapers can take the lead as the top mobile news providers by early 2012, which will leave breathing room before the 2013 deadline, he hopes.
“It’s a challenging, but doable schedule,” Bentley said. “I hope some shortcuts can be found, but any way it’s cut, we must put our mobile strategy efforts in high gear. The alternative is to let the independent entrepreneurs and people with more interest in quick cash than service to society take over our business again.”
Bentley believes the mobile trend will be beneficial for newspapers because it will make the news easier to access.
“People will go for the easiest way; it’s human nature,” Bentley said. “If you make something easier for them, they will use it. It is much easier to pull something out of a pocket or purse than it is go to an office and sit down at a computer. Computers are tools. My cell phone is an extension of my arm.”