Archive for August, 2012

Spoiler alert: Users will win Knight’s mobile News Challenge

August 15, 2012


Think of it as the Race to the Top for news. This year, the Knight News Challenge is putting its money where its mouth is, leveraging its annual grants behind what it believes are journalism’s biggest opportunities.

By limiting entries to three areas — networks and data, now closed, and, opening Aug. 29, mobile — Knight is not only concentrating the $5 million in funding, as well as support, it directly awards, it is also focusing the attention of the hundreds drawn by the chance for a share of such a large prize, just like Race for the Top.

With apologies to Red Sanders, here, winning is not the only thing. Wikileaks, for all its impact, was a News Challenge runner-up in 2009.

And, with apologies to those still recovering from Olympic spoilers, spoiler alert, the real winner of 2012’s final Challenge round will be users.

Users win because mobile gets content creators, developers and designers to focus on them.

When screen space and bandwidth are at a premium, publishers cut out the editorial fat and silence the interactive bells and whistles.

When the platform travels with the user, publishers steer content to them rather than luring them to the content.

When, almost whoever you are, your friends, family and neighbors are likely fellow users, the generative benefits of community increase.

When traditional technological followers, who, due to their lack of infrastructure, leapfrog traditional technological leaders in the mobile revolution, a larger, more diverse population of users tests ideas sooner.

When publishers create for devices that are increasingly young users’ first, and sometimes only, exposure to the greater outside world, they gain insight into the expectations and behaviors these users will manifest when they become participatory consumers.

So, congratulations users. As a user of at least six CMSes who assists end-users when their gears start to grind, trust me, you’ve earned it.

Now that you know who wins, this time, aren’t you even more excited to watch the race? I know I am. I might even run in it.

Creative Commons photo by Ken Banks,