Going beyond mobile-first

“The opportunity lies in developing services and products that respond to the when, where, and how of news consumption.”

The washroom has become the newsroom. Or at least, it has become the newsroom for one in three of us.

According to the 2017 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 32 percent of us take advantage of private moments in the toilet and use our mobile phone to check the news.

The figure illustrates a broader trend around shifting news consumption habits, given the rise of smartphones as the leading digital gateway to news and information. As the Reuters report noted, “2017 marks the tipping point in the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway where smartphones have reached a par with computers in terms of news access.”

But there is another story here, and that is the story of how people are getting the news in what used to be dead times, using the one device that never leaves their side.

This phenomenon goes beyond the washroom. Almost half of us reach out for our mobiles for news when we get out of bed in the morning or are going to bed at night. More than 40 percent of us are staring at our screens during the work commute.

News is becoming something we cram into the minutes in between other activities — be it waiting for a bus to turn up or a trip to the toilet. Once, these dead times may have been filled by reading a free news daily or an out-of-date magazine, or by indulging in a spot of daydreaming. Now, the lure of the smartphone is becoming hard to resist.

Reaching news consumers during these dead times is a challenge for news publishers. The mobile screen is becoming a crowded space. Notifications, news apps, social platforms, and news aggregators battle for attention.

Browsing news sites, hopping from one to another, is difficult on mobile. More appealing are services that offer a one-stop destination for that quick hit of headlines. Similarly, many people may not get to the end of a lengthy story. It may just take too much time to read in the minutes of dead time before a friend to turn ups for lunch.

Despite the obstacles, there is an opportunity for news publishers to reach news consumers in creative and innovative ways during these in-between spaces of our lives. The opportunity lies in developing services and products that respond to the when, where, and how of news consumption.

In 2018, it is not enough to think mobile-first without considering how news can work into those minutes of dead time filled by smartphones.

Next time you’re in the washroom, reading the headlines on your mobile, just think: How can I offer a compelling news service for this captive audience?

Alfred Hermida is director and associate professor at the School of Journalism, University of British Columbia.

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Jake Levine   The return to now

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Paul Ford   Go global

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Burt Herman   Things get real

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Errin Haines   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story