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Intrigued, But Not Immersed: Millennial Students Analyze the iPad's Performance as a News Platform


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The arrival of Apple’s iPad tablet in 2010 was trumpeted as a pivotal, game-changing moment for the news business. But did the iPad’s initial news applications live up to the much-hyped promise of delivering a more immersive news experience? The author, using two iPads obtained through a university pilot program, assigned 28 digital journalism students to rate and analyze iPad news apps during the fall 2010 semester. The iPads were rotated among the students, who examined their chosen news app over a period of at least four days. This study, employing a uses-and-gratifications theoretical framework, asked students to evaluate each app based on four factors: immediacy/urgency, non-linear news presentation, multimedia news content, and reader interactivity. Students were most impressed with multimedia news offerings (awarding an average of 3.7 points on a 5-point scale), but were less enamored with the apps’ interactivity (3.3 points) and immediacy (3.1). While many students said they believe the iPad holds promise as a news platform, they generally preferred existing news websites and legacy news products to their iPad counterparts. With some 50 million U.S. millennials (age 18 to 29) now forming what could be lifelong news habits, the study provides early insight into how this crucial demographic is reacting and responding to the tablet as a news medium.

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Intrigued, But Not Immersed: Millennial Students Analyze the iPad's Performance as a News Platform

  1. 1. Intrigued, But Not Immersed:Millennials Analyze the iPad’sPerformance as a News Platform<br />International Symposium on Online Journalism<br />Austin, Texas – April 1, 2011<br />Jake Batsell, assistant professor<br />Southern Methodist University<br />@jbatsell<br />
  2. 2. Methodology<br />The ground rules<br /><ul><li>iPad pilot program
  3. 3. Two classes
  4. 4. 4-day checkouts
  5. 5. Assigned ratings</li></ul> √ Immediacy<br /> √ Non-linear presentation<br /> √ Multimedia<br /> √ Interactivity<br /><ul><li>Blogged reviews</li></li></ul><li>Methodology<br />Sample overview<br /><ul><li>26 female, 2 male
  6. 6. 27 in 20s, 1 in 40s
  7. 7. 27 U.S., 1 Bulgarian
  8. 8. 3 Hispanic
  9. 9. 1 Asian-American
  10. 10. 1 African-American
  11. 11. Typical participant was white, female American millennial college student</li></ul>Caveats<br /><ul><li>Small sample (28)
  12. 12. Millennials aren’t the news industry’s target consumer for iPad apps – yet</li></li></ul><li>Findings<br />Immediacy<br /><ul><li>Avg score = 3.1/5
  13. 13. Surprisingly stale
  14. 14. “Old news”
  15. 15. Updated once daily</li></ul>Standouts<br /><ul><li>ESPN ScoreCenter
  16. 16. Glamour</li></ul>Laggards<br /><ul><li>New York Post
  17. 17. ABC News</li></ul>Image credit: American Journalism Review<br />
  18. 18. Findings<br />Non-linear presentation<br /><ul><li>Avg score = 3.4/5
  19. 19. Passing grade
  20. 20. Good customization
  21. 21. Awkward navigation
  22. 22. Limited options</li></ul>Standouts<br /><ul><li>ESPN ScoreCenter
  23. 23. New York Times</li></ul>Laggards<br /><ul><li>Fox4 News (Dallas)
  24. 24. Washington Post</li></ul>Image credit: Sports Illustrated<br />
  25. 25. Findings<br />Multimedia<br /><ul><li>Avgscore</li></ul>= 3.7/5<br /><ul><li>Occasionally</li></ul> dazzling <br /> qualities<br />Standouts<br /><ul><li>Time Magazine
  26. 26. New York Times
  27. 27. Ebony’s 65thanniv.
  28. 28. ESPN ScoreCenter</li></ul>Laggards<br /><ul><li>New York Post
  29. 29. GQ</li></ul>Image credit: American Journalism Review<br /><ul><li>New York Times: “The picture is unbelievably clear (much better than that on the iPhone), and the sound isn’t muffled like it can be on the iPhone”
  30. 30. New York Post: “Interactivity and multimedia content were very minimal (huge bummer).”</li></li></ul><li>Findings<br />Interactivity<br /><ul><li>Avgscore</li></ul> = 3.3/5<br /><ul><li>Largely disappointing</li></ul>Standouts<br /><ul><li>Esquire
  31. 31. New Yorker</li></ul>Laggards<br /><ul><li>MTV News
  32. 32. People Magazine</li></ul>Image credit: American Journalism Review<br /><ul><li>Ebony: “I think they should look into expanding readers’ options even further, and they might consider linking to some of their sources for those readers who want more.”
  33. 33. MTV News: “Don’t bother, MTV. Just stick to your website.”</li></li></ul><li>Image credit: American Journalism Review<br />Conclusions<br /><ul><li>First wave of iPad News apps weren’t immediate or interactive enough for this group of millennials
  34. 34. Students said premium apps aren’t worth the extra money yet
  35. 35. Too many news apps resemble shovelware
  36. 36. Students generally prefer websites to apps</li></li></ul><li>Closing Thoughts<br /><ul><li>Millennials’ iPad news experience differs from the GenX & Baby Boomers in Reynolds iPad study
  37. 37. Why important? 50 million millennials age 18-29 forming lifelong habits
  38. 38. Future research: 2nd wave of tablet apps (Xoom, Galaxy, Playbook, iPad 2)</li></ul>Image credit: Texas Monthly<br />
  39. 39. Thanks!jbatsell@smu.eduTwitter: @jbatsell<br />