A wet newspaper versus news delivery on a smart phone

An interesting old media/new media story for me today.

I find my copy of this morning’s Gainesville Sun in my driveway — soaked. The paper was in one plastic bag, but the bag had ripped when the paper was thrown onto the driveway and then had landed in a large puddle of rainwater.

I called the Gainesville Sun circulation office and used the automated system, as the office is closed on Sunday. I report the problem with today’s paper and do have the option of reporting that the paper was not double-bagged. My subscription will be extended, I am told by the automated voice. But I won’t be receiving today’s paper.

I go to a newspaper vending machine and find the Gainesville Sun’s machine is broken. So I purchase The Florida Times-Union, which continues to deliver newspapers to Gainesville even after The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel have stopped delivery in Gainesville.

I’ve already read quite a few of the major stories of the day on my iPhone — with USA Today and AP apps.

The story that catches my interest is the feature on “How they’re plugged in,” a story about how they consume information and how that has changed in the last few years. The story includes a full page (in newspaper language) of profiles of 18 individuals and their technology use.

As this story points out, parents are texting their children and sending photos with their phones, working folks are using their phones to check movie times and find the movie theater with built-in phone GPS, and almost everyone is reading the news online (on computer or smart phone).

Those who are in the information delivery business (whether news or entertainment; print, online or broadcast) and those of us who teach students who plan to go into the field need to be aware of how people are getting their information and expect to be getting their information.

I’m going to make this a required reading for the students in my class — Writing for Mass Communication. These are students just starting journalism, public relations or advertising majors. They need to be thinking about their own cell phone use and that of others as the focus of their media careers — at least for near future.

We need to be thinking about “delivering the world” (as the AT&T commercial says) via smart phones.

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