The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Nov 23, 2010

Knight News Challenge 101: Why Mobile?

Posted by John Bracken

Cross-posted from When we decided to create categories for the 2011 Knight News Challenge, it didn't take us long to settle on Mobile as one of them. Here are some illustrations on why we think the mobile device is such an important tool for the production, delivery, consumption and sharing of news and information:

  • There's been lots of discussion about the new TSA body scanners, but John Tyner put the issue front and center when he left his camera phone running last week. (I won't enter the debate as to whether John's video counts as "journalism"-- that's what conferences are for.)
  • Like millions of others, I followed last week's British #demo2010 student protests from my phone. Via the Guardian, I found'Asif Khan's gripping Flickr'videos of the storming of Millbank Tower, at least portions of which were shot on an iPhone.
  • Amanda Lenhart gave a presentation to the Family Online Safety Institute on teens and mobile phones. Two of Amanda's figures reminded me how that the mobile world is still new,and we have a lot to learn.'I was surprised that only 80% of teens, and 40% of teens from homes of less than $30,000, have cell phones. What's it like to be the one kid out of five without a phone? Second, 41%'of low-income teens use their phones to go online, compared to around a quarter of all other teens.
  • The mHealthSummit was held in DC earlier last week. 'A Lancet study discussed at the conference claims that mobile phones can have a positive impact on public health:

"The study on mobile phone usage to treat HIV positive clients in Kenya...indicates that simple "how are you" texts delivered weekly increase the likelihood that Kenyans who are HIV positive will follow their medication regime..."Considering the ubiquity of mobile phones and the minimal expense in sending text messages, this practice can be an extremely cost-effective way of improving outcomes for HIV patients... Dr. [Richard] Lester said.

As has been said before, we don't know what we're looking for-- we're waiting for you to tell us.


If you have questions please tweet them to #KNC, ping us @knightfdn @jczamora @jsb, or send us an e-mail at: newschallenge[at]knightfoundation[dot]org.


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