Tagged: washington post

This Just In – And Reported On Your Tablet

On a quiet news day, if you focus and listen carefully – over the noise barrage from 24hr news services, the hand-wringing sounds of millions of journalists decrying their lot, and the scratching of next-gen journalists at the doors of mainstream media – you can hear a small murmur of information about digital tablets.

Digital tablets, or Tablet PCs, are pen- or touchscreen-interacted computers that emphasize portability and readability, and they’ve been the answer for mainstream newspapers for years now, whether they realize it or not.

The ability to have a small, newspaper-esque (really, more ‘zine-sized) piece of gear that allows user interactivity (ie: hyperlinks, comments boxes, multimedia assets) is the boon the newspaper industry has needed for many years. Newspaper tablets allow a decent viewing size for content, a departure from the phenomenal cost of print production and distribution, and offer a sophisticated multimedia vehicle with a clean, familiar interface.

An article on The Street today discusses that the New York Times is investigating Tablet PCs, mostly in preparation of Apple’s foray into the field (something that, until very recently, Apple has denied any interest in doing). While I disagree with hyping one brand over another (particularly with prototypes), it does seem wise for newspapers to wait until Apple has entered the fray, given how they tend to be game-changers with portable, personal media devices.

Whether these products roll out in 2010 or beyond (and my thinking is we’ll be seeing them sooner rather than later), there’s little doubt that they will shake up the way we consume media – much as the iPod changed how we consume music (and, uh, media).

While I don’t think the news media should try to adapt to every new piece of technology that is released, I think there’s evidence that Tablet PCs will have strong consumer uptake. The smarter newspapers would do well to plan for this revolution now (as the NYTimes, Washington Post, and a few others are doing), rather than waiting for the change in consumer habits to dictate newspaper development.

This could be the make-or-break situation the industry’s been expecting during it’s long, slow decline.

Multimedia Pieces & the Recession

I have seen a few really tremendous multimedia pieces recently, focusing on the recession and its impact on different communities.

I thought I’d post today about two stories I was directed to via the excellent multimedia journalism site, Interactive Narratives.

The first is called Waiting Topless, produced by Natalie Conn, Peter Smith, Briget Ganske for The Sunday Best. It tracks two waitresses at a topless cafe in Maine, who both took their jobs due to the realities of the economic downturn in their area, and shows the unexpected realities of struggling to make ends meet when other jobs are not available.

The second piece is a three-part video article by Pierre Kattar and Sarah Sampsel for the Washington Post, called Voices of the Recession. This piece tracks three different groups: new clients of a local food bank, various people bidding on homes in an auction of bank-foreclosed properties, and finally, people newly enrolled in bar-tending school, which has seen a 25% increase in students in the last few months.

Both of these pieces primarily highlight the extraordinary lengths that people have to go to in tough economic times to simply pay bills, make rent and take care of their families. However, the larger theme in these pieces and others on the same topic is that the economy is changing, and few have any idea of where we will all end up when – and if – our economies stabilize.

We live in uncertain times and seem to be heading for increasing uncertain futures, and the tension of navigating through it all is evident in nearly every piece I’ve seen recently – whether it is about the recession or not.