“I believe that about 60 percent of the newspaper newsrooms globally are still in a legacy mode, with editors and reporters producing content for printed editions, and not catching up with the way copy flows in a mobile-driven digital age,” he said.
“To me, the challenge is how editors and journalists generally react to change, and how quickly they are to embrace transformation.”
Ahead of his Storytelling Showfest, taking place during the World News Media Congress in Portugal next week, García touches upon the challenges and opportunities of operating in a multi-platform environment, and shares a glimpse of what attendees can expect from his session.
WAN-IFRA: In your opinion, what are some of the main challenges and opportunities when it comes to mobile storytelling?
Dr Mario García: Mobile storytelling allows for the presentation of information in a way that can appeal to more of the senses. We can have audio, photography, video. With a large percentage of our audience consuming news on mobile devices, we now can generate stories in a variety of ways, as opposed to everything presented with a headline, a summary and text. It is up to the imagination of the writer/reporter in how a specific story is presented. This presents a challenge for newsrooms that are still in the “legacy” stage, structuring the entire organization and workflow around one product: the printed newspaper. I believe that about 60% of the newspaper newsrooms globally are still in a legacy mode, with editors and reporters producing content for printed editions, and not catching up with the way copy flows in a mobile-driven digital age. To me, the challenge is how editors and journalists generally react to change, and how quickly they are to embrace transformation.
You say that the audience gives us between 6 to 8 seconds before it dives into information. What do you mean by that exactly? And what can we do to capture and retain the audience’s attention, particularly when telling stories on mobile phones?
I remember doing EyeTrack research for print at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in the early 1990s. At that time, when the eyes of the readers landed on a front page of a newspaper, the eyes would move around the page for what could be 33 seconds to decide which stories to read. With today’s audience, and, particularly with those who read on mobile devices, the time to ‘seduce’ these readers is about 6-8 seconds, then the thumb (or any finger) will be ready to scroll down to the next screen and the next story. It is an impatient audience. We must have better headlines, more seductive first paragraphs and/or visuals. The challenge is greater, but so are the opportunities, as I explained earlier, to appeal to more senses. We can begin a story not with words, but with a video. We can start with sound that sets the mood. As a veteran journalist, I embrace these possibilities.
What are some of the things people coming to your Storytelling Showfest at the World News Media Congress might learn?
My hope is that everyone will emerge with some solid concepts about the following: that we live and present information in a multi platform world, what I call the media quintet; that the way a story flows today is an evolutionary way, as opposed to based on deadlines for a print edition tomorrow, or an evening edition tonight. That the information is transmitted as it happens, that we must both prepare the appetizers and the big meal at the same time. Readers want the short of it as it happens, and the long and in depth of it later. In my session we will discuss how our audience reacts to leaning forward all day and also leaning back to read the longer pieces. We will learn about linear visual storytelling for mobile devices; writing the way we chat on WhatsApp, for example. We will also learn about the important, but secondary, role of print. Everyone should go home with a clear idea of the importance of crafting stories for specific platforms, that one size does not fit all.