Experimenting and Evolution: Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab

The daily ritual of sitting at the table reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee is sparse. Today, the process of reading the news is more like a few thumb scrolls down a news feed while waiting in line at Starbucks. This psychographic change is not just the crux for digital innovation at news organizations, it is an indicator that mobile innovation should also be on the to-do list.

For The Guardian U.S., it is.

In June 2015, the news organization launched the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab – a $2.6 million project partnered with the Nieman Lab for coverage and the Knight Foundation for funding.

The Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab has just been assigned its head leaders. Sasha Koren, formerly of The New York Times, will serve as the editor and Sarah Schmalbach, of USA Today and Gannett, will be the senior product manager. Over the next two years, Koren and Schmalbach will curate several experiments for sharing news through mobile technology in different ways.

Three inches of cell phone screen space is not a large enough window into all-inclusive news. That is why contributions from content experts and publishers and storyline suggestions will guide Koren and Schmalbach in their experiments. The goal of the Innovation Lab is to deliver the most appropriate storytelling for mobile platforms and to deliver it in a way that trivializes screen size.

Without trying to discover a universal mobile approach for all news stories, the lab experiments are simply meant to adapt The Guardian’s journalistic outputs as the field evolves.

“I think there is a certain intimacy associated with a mobile device that is different than a desktop device or even a shared tablet device. Part of the product development thinking here will be around how we leverage information that is automatically associated with your small screen or mobile device and how do we use that to tell better stories, or tell stories at the right time, or stories that allow you to take action as things become easier to do on mobile devices…” – Sarah Schmalbach, Senior Product Manager

A key practice in the Lab’s experiments will be reflection and feedback. Koren and Schmalbach intend to seek internal (from The Guardian newsroom) and external (readers) responses to the experiments to determine the future steps for the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab.

To get The Guardian started with an external impression of the Mobile Innovation Lab, I think that this initiative is an effective investment of time and resources. The market for news consumers is becoming increasingly tech-dependent and convenience-based. A strong grasp on mobile storytelling may mean a strong grasp on the market.

So, while Koren claims that these next two years aren’t meant to make a discovery that will save the industry, The Guardian’s innovative efforts may just as well preserve its relevance in the evolution of journalism.

 

Source by Madeline Welsh, Nov. 17, 2015: Here’s how the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab wants to experiment with news on phones

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