News Media Calls Mobile Content a "Problem"
By Eric Lin, Fri May 07 23:00:00 GMT 2004

Newspaper circulation is dropping around the globe- except possibly in Asia, it seems. Publishers are panicking, and they're not exactly embracing new media to boost readership.

If anything, publishers are actually angry at new media outlets, especially news delivered to mobile phones. At a conference in Italy, publishers from around the world complained that "non-traditional communications" are quickly outpacing traditional print, radio, and even television news media. Mobile phones don't just change the delivery medium, they also change expectations regarding news content.

Instead of adapting and starting SMS news services or launching mobile-friendly websites, the news giants are fighting back by trying to make newspapers or TV news more hip. In addition to programs encouraging high-school and young readers to subscribe, papers are adding entertainment, technology and even extreme sports coverage.

While the papers think this is helping, young participants at the conference complained that the media outlets were wasting time and space reviewing the latest developments on Big Brother or in the Indoor Supercross Circuit. Participants pointed out it's not just lifestyle stories that traditional media outlets don't get. For example many papers were still reporting that the bombing in Madrid on March 11 was the work of Basque separatists while word had spread by text message that Al Qaeda suspects were in custody.

It's not just mobile users who are frustrated by papers, but regular web users as well. Worrying that they are losing money to web readers, despite a rise in online ad revenue, many papers are considering putting their content behind a pay-wall. (Thanks, Techdirt) The Wall St. Journal has had reasonable success with online only subscriptions, and other papers hope to capitalize on this. The article points out that since it is a business journal, it offers unique content which business will pay for. Most media outlets do not have such unique content or such well-funded subscribers.

Old media establishments seem to be especially active this week- locking down entertainment content, trying to combat mobile news channels. What will it take for the old media guard to realize they will be more successful and make more money by embracing new technology rather than trying to fight back progress?