Smart phone apps damaging newspaper circulation

15 Nov

James Murdoch. Photo courtesy of http://www.seek4media.com

Mobile phone applications that allow users to browse through news stories on their phones are damaging to newspaper circulation, according to James Murdoch, head of News Corp.

An article published on seek4media.com this morning gives details of claims made by Mr Murdoch that newspapers are under threat from quick and easy smart phone apps that provide mobile phone users with the opportunity to simply scan through a variety of the day’s news. In a speech to the Monaco Media Forum, Mr Murdoch described the available news apps as being ‘much more directly cannabalistic of the print products‘ than full newspaper websites, as people begin to favour them over printed news because of their quick convenience.

As a newspaper journalist, the potential decline of newspapers fills me with dread, however I must confess that the various newspaper applications available on my iPhone have made the news so much more accessible to me as I rush through life as a postgraduate student.

The BBC, The Daily Telegraph and Sky News are just a few of the news organisations that have made the move to mobile media, providing users with a free and efficient means of browsing through the day’s news without the hassle of stopping and buying a newspaper as they rush from place to place.

With the number of smart phones that are now readily available to a variety of budgets, it seems that mobile media applications are an inescapable aspect of the future of journalism. Whether we newspaper journalists want to admit it or not, mobile media is an essential aspect of the modern world and it seems only right that newspapers and other news organisations are keen to become a part of its ever-increasing popularity.

Rather than sitting back and complaining about the negative effects of mobile technology on news print products, surely it would make more sense for the world’s largest news organisations to capitalise on the popularity of such apps. Maximise your readership and reach out to every possible potential new reader. If you are going to have a news app, make it stand out from the others – the more interesting and popular it is, the more likely people are to pay for it in the future.

However, much like the introduction of the paywall on a number of News Corp’s publications’ websites, it seems to me that, until every news organisation is willing to charge for use of their website or their mobile app, those that do will find themselves suffering from a shortage of users. In the harsh light of the modern economy, few can afford the luxury of buying something which is available to them for free. Perhaps it is for this reason that Mr Murdoch fears the growing number of mobile apps – while others are offering their online mobile news services for free, it is unlikely that News Corp’s paywall is going to see an increase in the number of willing investors.

What remains clear is that mobile media is an essential element of journalism and will undoubtedly remain around until the next technological revolution comes along.

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One Response to “Smart phone apps damaging newspaper circulation”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Moving Media | Multi-Minded Musings - January 14, 2011

    […] My first attempt at a mobile technology blog follows. For more of the same please visit http://www.citymobilemedia.wordpress.com […]

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