World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Mario García: What's cooking with mobile and tablets

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Mario García: What's cooking with mobile and tablets

One such expert is Mario García, the renowned publications designer who recently completed his first digital book, "iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet" (available from the iBookstore for iPad, as well as on Amazon Kindle and Google Books). As part of his faculty affiliate work at the Poynter Institute in the USA, he was part of the key research team for EyeTrack: Tablet, which in 2012 studied how tablet users read and interact with news.

Most recently, he was named Columbia University’s Hearst Digital Media Professor-in-Residence for its Journalism for 2013 and 2014.

García will be speaking at and chairing several sessions during the Tablet & App Summit, a parallel conference during Expo held on Monday and Tuesday of the event. We spoke to García to gauge some of the trends he sees leading up the event.

WAN-IFRA: Are there some recent key innovations or developments that have caught your eye and might affect publishers’ development?

Mario García: Tons of exciting new things are cooking, in my view. Think Google Glass (which will free data from desktop computers and portable devices like phones and tablets, and place it right in front of your eyes). Also, the strongly rumored upcoming smart watches from Apple, Google, and Microsoft are exciting as new platforms for our work. Storytelling can be enhanced and refined. The sky is the limit. Today it is “media quartet,” but the full orchestra of possibilities looms in the near horizon. And with smartphones becoming more computers than phones, and with their presence becoming greater each day, that is one platform for us to concentrate efforts on.

How varied are the approaches of tablet editions/apps from, say, here in Germany, to what you might find in North America or elsewhere?

The entire field of newspaper tablet editions is undergoing dramatic changes. It is three years since the first iPad came out, but it is more like 10 years in terms of development. The Germans gave us perhaps the best early use of “pop up” moments in the iPad via Bild Zeitung (they since have reverted to a different style for their tablet, but it is still strong). We see exciting things happening with tablets in Scandinavia – Denmark and Oslo particularly. The North Americans are making progress too, as in Canada’s La Presse or Montreal Gazette. In the USA, progress for tablet editions is slower. Newspapers there have a presence on the tablet, but in many cases, these are almost identical versions of what appears online and in print. There is much to do in that field.

La Presse +: The tablet edition of La Presse + has received a lot of attention since its launch in the spring.La Presse +: The tablet edition of La Presse + has received a lot of attention since its launch in the spring.Can you generalise the challenges facing publishers in satisfying reader demand with their tablet products?

The first challenge is developing a philosophy. While many publishers are declaring the “digital first” banner as their own, it is a long way from declaring it to actually doing it. So the challenge is to see storytelling as the protagonist, then see how stories adapt to the various platforms. That requires a radical change in thinking in the newsroom, and, in most cases, an approach that says: In this organization we write for digital platforms first, then the rest happens organically.

Are you seeing more of a holistic mobile/multimedia strategy, i.e. tablet, mobile, online, print?

Indeed I am. That’s good news. There is near the end of 2013 a greater acceptance that a multi-platform world, the media quartet, as I call it, is the way to go. Let the story develop for each platform, exploring the full potential of each. Let’s not come to the office to plan a “newspaper” – emphasis on “paper.” It is beginning to happen, for which I am very happy.  It is no longer should we do it, it is HOW can we do it, and HOW SOON. Exciting times, indeed, for us storytellers.

What questions would you advise news publishers here to ask mobile/tablet/system providers who are promoting their solutions?

  • Ask about the nexus where technology and storytelling meet. Those two are indispensable disciplines that must come together.
  • Find out what the best technical solution is for you to manage your content flow in the most expeditious manner. Soak it all up in terms of how other organizations are doing, but, remember, your newspaper is different, and you cannot simply take a model you like and apply it to your situation. You must explore what is possible, then concentrate on how that would work with your specific publication.
  • Be ready for change: embrace it, accept it and be ready to implement functions that are based on a rethinking of what you do and how you do it.


Dean Roper's picture

Dean Roper


2013-09-25 17:47

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