Future of journalism profession lies with mobile, not newsprint

Amid the string of sad news about big-name newspaper folding or cutting jobs, I finally saw hope and proof for a bright future of journalism profession – people still demand journalism contents, on mobile.

Two more newspapers falling by the wayside

We have become numb to hearing about newspapers struggling and folding; yet in the past week, two such news caught much attention on Twitter and the web:

  • The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, one of the nation’s oldest newspapers, will offer print editions three days a week instead of seven, starting in the fall.
  • Postmedia Network Canada Corp., the owner of several big-city dailies across the Canada, said it will cease publishing the Sunday editions of certain titles and cut unspecified number of jobs in its newsrooms.

Hope is on the horizon for journalism

How do I talk about such news with my journalism students? I always tell them that newspaper industry may be dying, but the journalism profession is still flourishing: strong demands exist elsewhere for journalism contents, such as mobile.

A news I read today seems to corroborate my argument: FT.com expects half audience to be via mobile by 2015. The managing director of Financial Times said, “We have to get use to the idea that the future of news publishing is on mobile.”

In a similar vein, News Corp’s UK newspaper The Times could be read mostly digitally by 2014. Look at the graph below to see Times’ print vs. digital subscription numbers. This graph shows that The Times, just like Rupert Murdoch wanted, is progressively – if slowly – becoming a business with a higher degree of guaranteed revenue certainty.

And the catch is…

The FT.com managing director said, “Publishers are only just getting used to the desktop, but the audience has moved on.” I believe that is a challenge for both the industry and the journalism education. The FT managing director said they need to tweak what they do; likewise, journalism educators also need to tweak what they teach.

About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (www.mulinblog.com/mooc), a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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