Need more evidence on why you should have a mobile-first mentality?

Two photos taken at the same location in Vatican City in 2005 and 2013, respectively, show how mobile technology has changed the world and why journalism should gear up toward a mobile-first future.

Spotted by NBC Today Show and went viral around the Internet, these two photos were both taken at the St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. One photo shows people waiting to hear from the new pope in 2005 (Pope Benedict XVI) [this is not factual, see update below], the other shows people waiting for the new pope in 2013 (Pope Francis). There was only one (or a few) camera phone in the crowd in 2005; whereas in 2013, it was a sea of mobile devices at Vatican

UPDATE: In a laudable act of factual reporting, a Washington Post reporter found that the photo collage is not quite accurate. In fact, the 2005 photo “was taken during the funeral procession of Pope John Paul II – a very different mood and event type.” Indeed, we do not expect to see a jubilant crowd taking pictures and videos at a funeral. The reporter includes an actual photo showing a 2005 crowd reacting to the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI, which shows a number of recording devices – camcorders and digital cameras.

st peters 2005

However, comparing this actual 2005 photo with the above 2013 photo, even this Washington Post reporter admits that “It’s a small, but arguably notable difference.” What interests me more is a reader comment left to this WP article and I’m quoting it here:

There is a marked difference between then and now. There is no doubt that people were taking photographs then and so they did during the previous conclaves, if you pick a photo from any of the two conclaves that were held in 1978 you will see hundreds of hand held cameras… The marked difference between the photos in 2005 and 2013 is that those with smartphones are not using them just as cameras they are sharing their photos, covering the news… they are now active parts of the communication rather than mere spectators. That’s the real importance of the 2013 photo.

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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 (, 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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One Response to Need more evidence on why you should have a mobile-first mentality?

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