Mobile journalism is a friend to print

The general consensus among publishers and editors seems to be that more mobile journalism and technological advancements are a threat to the future of print journalism. The presenters at the "On the Go" session of the ASNE 2010 conference beg to differ.

Stephen Buttry, the director of community engagement for Allbritton Communications, believes that you can't have a successful news organization today with being "mobile-first."

"Every staffer needs to have a smart phone," said Buttry. "I think it's essential."

Buttry seemed to have a great understanding of new technology and how the convergence between mobile and print is the future. He stressed the importance of regularly using mobile apps like Twitter and Foursquare.

"I still don't fully get FourSquare. But I get that location is important," said Buttry.

He suggests putting the ideal of "mobile-first" at the forefront of your planning. News organizations should discuss the use of hashtags, interactive maps, Ushahidi, and short codes. He suggests changing the typical front-page meeting to a mobile-planning meeting.

Matthew Idema, the vice president for Local at Yahoo!, followed Buttry and gave quick look at the future Yahoo! app for iPhone. The app will use location and interests to tailor the information it provides to the mobile user. The "Marketplace" allows one to flip through pages of the weekly store circulars, just like you do now with the Sunday paper.

Idema said the idea of checking in your location with websites like Foursquare offers potential to provide local deals to a user.

Audience members who asked questions seemed reluctantly receptive to the idea of partnering with companies to further mobile journalism efforts. Buttry and Idema reassured them all that this future joint effort in journalism is mutually beneficial for everyone.

"We can leap tall buildings with a single bound. Remember Clark Kent was a reporter," said Buttry.

By Seth A. Lemon