Mobile News: New York Times, WTNH-TV

By | October 18, 2008

The following is an examination of  mobile products offered by two traditional news organizations.

The New York Times Mobile

The New York Times is the benchmark for news media organizations in terms of depth of content, audience reach, and elegance of design. The newspaper’s mobile products are no different.  The Times’ mobile site drew 500,000 page views in January 2007, grew to 10 million hits by December 2007 and then rocketed to 19 million views in May 2008.

Among the offerings:

  •  Headlines or full text of all articles from today’s newspaper, as well as the Sunday New York Times magazine.
  • Stock quotes, market indices and charts
  • Local movie show times and movie reviews
  • Search for articles and Real Estate listings
  • Personalized news alerts
  • Share articles with friends feature via email or SMS
  • Save articles to a personal “Times File”
  • Podcasts by favorite New York Times journalists (also available on iTunes) – http://www.nytimes.com/ref/multimedia/podcasts.html
  • NYT Crossword puzzle

The Times’ iPhone application is even more comprehensive. It provides all of the standard mobile site offerings, as well as: 

  • Offline reading
  • Photo view, where users can browse the news in pictures and link to the related articles
  • Customization options – select four favorite sections of The Times for one-touch access.

 According to Robert Samuels, the Times’ director of mobile products, the most popular content items are business and politics news, blogs and most-emailed stories.  Text messaging applications continue to grow for specific uses, such as stock listings or weather forecasts, he said.

In a nice example of convergence, the Times’ also connects its different mobile products to each other. For example, text message alerts allow users to easily link to related full text stories on the Times’ mobile site.

When the Times conducted focus groups on what mobile readers wanted, most of the feedback the news organization received is that “users want to have access to everything – specifically what interests them, with the least amount of clicks,” Samuels said.

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mobilewtnh.com

This is the mobile version of WTNH-TV Channel 8 in New Haven. The mobile site is created by LSN, Inc – http://www.lsnmobile.com/.  The site is spare, yet functional. The design is hardly engaging, but the content is useful to someone in Connecticut with a mobile device.

Among the offerings:

  • Updated news and sports headlines which lead to full text articles from WTNH.com. The articles include small thumbnail images, adding some visual interest, the ability to text message the story to a friend, and a link to the next headline. Many of the articles are from the Associated Press, which tend to be available from dozens of other sources.
  • Local weather. Doppler radar and satellite images,  8 day forecasts, and the ability to search by town name or zip code. All nice features.
  • I-95 Traffic Cams with updated images. Very useful.
  • Storm Team 8 Delays and Closings. This is an excellent offering for a mobile product.
  • Connecticut parents can access this information from wherever they are. Although, it seems out of place since it’s not snow season. The same goes for the ski report, which isn’t relevant all year long. They should take it down in the off season.
  • Local movie listings, searchable by zip code, and TV listings, although it offers only what’s on WTNH, not other channels (limited value).
  • Flight tracker for travelers, including departures & arrivals from Bradley International Airport and Tweed-New Haven Airport (good local content)
  •  Connecticut Lottery Results
  • Send news tips
  • Horoscopes
  • Lastly, users can search for cheap gas prices by zip code. This is a super-useful application for Connecticut drivers on the go who want to save a few bucks on gas and need to find a cheap gas station nearby. I might start looking at WTNH mobile now that I know it has this feature.

SOURCES

Chainon, Jean Yves. “US: Mobile news market nearing maturity, according to NYT.” The Editor’s Weblog: August 14, 2008. Retrieved on 9/3/2008 from http://www.editorsweblog.org/analysis/2008/08/us_mobile_news_market_to_be_ripe.php

Emmett, Arielle. “Handheld Headlines.” American Journalism Review: August/September 2008.  Retrieved on 10/17/2008 from http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4582


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