News develops in real time. So should the guides that journalists turn to when they look to revamp their coverage and update best practices.
We at Billy Penn are excited to share our effort to create an interactive, real-time mobile journalism guide that newsrooms can use to keep up with mobile storytelling trends. This guide, made possible by a $106,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, can help news sites navigate content, design and engagement opportunities on mobile platforms.
Billy Penn is a mobile platform for a better Philly. Before we had a website, or even a staff, we knew our content would be developed and designed first for phones and tablets — for our users who access information on the go, and who want to stay informed without being tied to a desk.
“It’s obvious that the move to mobile is not a temporary one,” said Jim Brady, CEO and founder of Spirited Media, which operates Billy Penn. “We hope to provide a platform for us and other publishers to share their successes – and failures – in order to rise all tides in this ever swelling digital sea.”
And it’s not just our users who are turning more and more to their phones. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 39 of the top 50 news sites now get more traffic from mobile than desktop, creating a need for new ways to present stories across platforms.
And because these new mobile information tools emerge so quickly, our guide will be updated in real-time to reflect new trends and clear out the old.
Since our launch in October 2014, Billy Penn has stayed true to our mission to tell stories that provide real-time news value and also serve as explainers that fill gaps in contextual coverage — all optimized for consumption on the devices people have come to rely on most.
We recognize we’re not the only ones making advances in mobile news coverage. That’s why any newsroom can contribute information on tools, strategy and workflow to be incorporated into the guide.
“While many newsrooms and content creators are learning from their own experiments with mobile, this knowledge isn’t typically shared widely. There is little comprehensive, hands-on guidance about how to function in an increasingly mobile-first environment,” said Shazna Nessa, Knight Foundation’s director for journalism. “Billy Penn will help answer this call by spreading learning about mobile news experiments and helping journalists better engage and inform their audiences.”
One thing this guide won’t be is an exercise in showmanship. This resource will be as much about acknowledging what doesn’t work as it is about finding new ways to tell mobile stories. Some of the best lessons come from failed experiments.
We’re excited to get started on this project and look forward to sharing ideas about how to create meaningful mobile content.