With those advances, however, come challenges and new ways of thinking. It is essential that editors rethink how the audience consumes content: they might start reading a story in print, continue it on their mobile as they travel, and finish it at work on a computer screen.
The new definition of news is anything you didn’t know 15 minutes ago – or even 15 seconds – says García. Many journalists lament that Twitter is where news breaks, he continued, but Twitter is just 140 characters: it is up to journalists to go deeper.
There is still a place for print, says García, “I believe print is eternal, as long as it adapts.” Paper has the power of disconnect, he says, something that people crave on occasion in this hyper-connected age. But print publications must focus on what they do best. “Nobody expects breaking news in a paper – paper is old,” García believes: “the headlines have to be written to imply looking to the future, not ‘this has already happened.’”
The Washington Post is one paper that is sufficiently evolving in print, García says. It has reinvented its Sunday edition with surprise stories on the front, great photography, and a compact magazine. Colombia’s El Tiempo has also made significant changes, he pointed out, moving from six sections to three: what you need to know (news), what you should read (in-depth features) and what you should do (lifestyle and entertainment).
Moving on to tablet apps, the first five to 10 seconds of a user’s visit are key, says García. They want to be immediately engaged. Early results of Poynter’s eye-tracking study show that people don’t want a tablet app to look like a newspaper, they prefer a carousel layout.
It is also crucial to remember that the finger must be kept entertained, García says, and this means pop-ups, “like a children’s book.” A photograph shouldn’t just have a caption, you should be able to click on elements for more information, or for a video. The content flow cannot be purely linear, it has to be fluid.
“If all you do is turn the pages, your readers are not going to be happy,” García stresses.
German tabloid Bild is doing pop-ups best on its app, believes García. The paper has eight people who conceptualise pop-ups and create three to four a day. Not every story has to be adorned with pop-ups, but it is important to have somebody looking out for suitable candidates, García advises.
Other tablet findings that García mentions are:
- the landscape mode is more popular than vertical
- 90 percent of users prefer swiping to scrolling
- readers enjoy photo galleries and videos
- the tablet is a lean-back platform, that most people use after 6pm in the evening
- the average person using a tablet in the evening has a TV on
- people are more willing to pay for tablet content than online content
- long narratives do very well
- advertising can be key but it needs to be done well
- even with a curated app, people like to have a breaking news feed included.