Flink will also work with Missouri School of Journalism newsrooms

It would be great to flip a switch and become a mobile-first newsroom but, so far, no one seems to have invented that yet. Of course, if you become mobile-first today, what happens tomorrow when you need to become a wearables-first news organization?

Jim FlinkMigrating to a mobile-first newsroom requires navigating through infrastructure upgrades, adjusting mindsets and serving varied emerging platforms. Keeping up with emerging technology is something that Jim Flink, formerly general manager of mobile news provider Newsy, knows all about.

Flink, now a mobile video news consultant for the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, believes news products need to be designed and optimized for mobile devices before other platforms and devices. He calls this a “mobile-first strategy.” However, this type of mindset is often an afterthought for many news leaders. “Mobile sometimes” frequently paints a more realistic picture, he says.

“Unfortunately, many news operations’ mobile presence is their website viewed on a smartphone,” says Flink.

Shifting to a mobile-first operation may seem overwhelming to 20-year newspaper veterans used to a dot-com era, and rightfully so, says Flink, who is helping news operations connect to the emerging technology and content platforms.

Mobile-first symposium

To help the industry move forward, RJI is bringing together thought leaders who are innovating or addressing the mobile migration in their newsrooms. Leaders will gather for a spring symposium March 31 and April 1 at RJI for in-depth conversations about the opportunities and challenges in migrating to mobile. They also will analyze the rapidly changing role of the audience.

“By using social media barometers about what’s being discussed in real-time, we can better understand how and where to target coverage,” says Flink. “News stories may resonate differently on Twitter, Facebook or on a mobile news app – where the audiences may be quite different from a more traditional media-based or even a Web-based audience.”

Discussion topics will also include new products; infrastructure; workflow and mindset adjustments; understanding audiences; and monetization strategies.

“We’re going to focus on cool products that you can incorporate into your newsroom,” says Flink. “And we’re also going to talk about ‘how do you change your experienced 20-year veterans into people who really do think mobile first?’”

Collaboration work with RJI, Missouri School of Journalism

In addition to planning the symposium, Flink is working with RJI to bring his mobile-first expertise to collaborative projects with industry partners, students and professors, says RJI Executive Director Randy Picht.

“It’s always challenging to figure out how to capitalize, or even keep up, with emerging technologies. Having a guide like Jim is invaluable for RJI and the news industry,” Picht says.

Flink is working alongside faculty and staff at Missouri School of Journalism, exploring strategies to take advantage of and optimize mobile content to their news products. The goal is that the work done in the school’s newsrooms will provide guidance, which can then be shared with newsrooms across the country. Flink is teaching a multiplatform reporting class this spring, which will be a laboratory learning experience for students and faculty at KBIA-FM (National Public Radio-member station), KOMU-TV (NBC affiliate) and other media properties at the University of Missouri.

Flink came to RJI with more than 20 years in broadcast journalism. The past four years he served at Newsy, studying how to optimize video content for mobile devices. Under his leadership the newsroom grew from four to 60 employees, including several student employees. Newsy went from producing 100 videos a month to producing 2,000 a month. As Newsy increased the amount of content it produced, the multisource video news analysis service won two Appy awards, which are awarded for creative app design and content. Newsy was acquired by E.W. Scripps in December 2013.

Jennifer Nelson-Pallikkathayil  
Senior Information Specialist


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