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News for a Mobile-First Consumer

Paula M. Poindexter

The rapid adoption of mobile devices has created a new type of consumer, one who chooses smartphones and tablets over laptops and desktops, TV and radio, print newspapers, magazines, books, and landline phones. This new mobile consumer has not just forced businesses, institutions, governments, and organizations to innovate with mobile solutions; this new mobile consumer has upended the news media landscape, challenging news organizations and journalists to produce news for consumers who have little resemblance to yesterday’s newspaper readers, TV news viewers, and online news consumers.

Based on two national surveys, News for a Mobile-First Consumer introduces a mobile consumer taxonomy comprised of three types of mobile consumers: mobile-first, mobile specialists, and mobile laggards. The demographics of these mobile consumers as well as their relationship to news and social media are explored in depth. Social media as a competitor to and platform for mobile news are also examined, and special attention is devoted to news apps from the perspective of consumers.

News for a Mobile-First Consumer also provides insight about millennials, racial and ethnic minorities, and women, who are at the forefront of the mobile revolution but less engaged with news. To improve mobile journalism and increase news engagement, «Essentials of Mobile Journalism» are proposed.

As the first book to explore news and consumers in the mobile sphere, this book is required reading for scholars and professionals as well as undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in journalism, communication, strategic communications, advertising, media and society, marketing, and technology courses.

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Chapter 4: News Consumers’ Preferences in a Mobile Environment

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NEWS CONSUMERS’ PREFERENCES IN A MOBILE ENVIRONMENT

In the 1990s, when the Internet first became a medium that consumers could access and navigate, newspapers began making their news available online by constructing news websites with home pages that functioned like a front page. An editor picked the most important news stories of the day for the homepage; less important news was relegated to other pages or never posted online. This journalistic tradition of deciding what was newsworthy and emphasizing the most newsworthy stories of the day, whether on the front page of a newspaper or homepage of a news website, makes editors powerful gatekeepers, a metaphor first used in a 1950 study to explain editors’ decision making (White, 1950).

That 1950 case study of a newspaper editor’s decisions about which news to select and which to reject also revealed the “subjective value-judgments” that editors used to determine what news the audience should see (White, 1950, p. 386). The all-powerful gatekeeper deciding what was news and the powerless reader reading what gatekeepers deemed important, defined the relationship between the editor and audience through the end of the 20th century. However, as the 21st century got underway, the editor-audience relationship began to change.

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