Here are five articles that arrived by links in my email box in the past week that grabbed my attention, for no particular rhyme or reason:
• Storytelling is a different experience on mobile phones and tablets than it is in print products — or even other online tools — according to this online chat on the Poynter Institute website that included eye-tracking researchers.
What’s more, young readers experience the ... well ... experience differently than older readers. The former skim more, their eyes darting all over the surface of their Galaxies, iPads and Android phones, searching for something that will grab and hold their attention. This much conforms to conventional wisdom about the short attention spans of younger readers, however, the researchers here say they tend to read just as deeply when they find what they want.
That bodes well for the future of long-form journalism on mobile devices.
This, however, does not: After about 78 seconds, the attention of most readers tends to wane, according to the preliminary research of Sara Quinn of Poynter and Northwestern University’s Jeremy Gilbert. Based on the speed of the average American reader, that means that about 350 words in — shorter than a lot of newspaper stories one would find in print — many folks hit a wall and start to wander away.
Quinn and Gilbert suggest placing “golden coins” — say, a drop-quote from a source not yet introduced in the story or a summary box of what has been written to that point — to keep readers engaged.
Such studies are more than just idle curiosity for those in my business.
And for good reason: The research indicates tablet and smartphone users develop strong attachments to their devices, sometimes falling asleep with them or turning them on as soon as they awake.
Possibly, the tactile nature of these devices explains the attachment, and if that’s true, that bodes well for older readers transitioning to them. Anecdotally, I can report that I frequently hear from older, longtime readers unenamored of the digital world, who long to hold a paper in their hands and thumbing through pages over breakfast. Tablets, in particular, seem to approximate this experience much better than a laptop or desktop, so these print devotees might one day become converts.
• The eye-tracking research is pertinent to newspapers for another reason — the meteoric rise of mobile media, described in this article at MediaDailyNews about consumers’ use of various media. The upshot: People are spending more and more time with their tablets and smartphones.
And not just journalistic writing.
His tips might be aimed at the journalist, but they would apply in all sorts of professional writing.
• The Cox Media Group apparently plans to start a conservative news organization, according to this story from the Atlanta edition of Creative Loafing.
Cox, the parent company of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, plans to launch an “independent (nonpartisan), anti-propaganda” national news website for conservative audiences that is “rooted in the South away from the right and left coasts,” Creative Loafing reports.
It will be interesting to observe the tack: Pundit-driven, commentary-heavy content along the lines of FOX News; or something a bit more scholarly, if just as politically bent — along the lines of right-leaning journals such as The American Spectator or Weekly Standard. (Pointless name-dropping: Former Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette reporter Kyle Peterson is now a managing editor at the Spectator.) Or maybe what will emerge is something less neo-conservative and more in the Russel Kirk tradition, like The American Conservative.
• Locally, we have heard much about the “creative class” — more specifically, a desire among many in economic-development circles to bring more of the low-impact, higly trained, thinking types to Beaufort County, where the lifestyle seems compatible.
So how are members of this emerging class of scientists, educators, financiers, artists and high-end salesmen faring during the economic downturn?
Not too badly, according to a recent study, described in this article at journalist’s resource. Those who belong to the creative class, as opposed to the services and working class, faced a 2-percent lower probability of being unemployed between 2006 and 2011.
Read the article to learn more.