Keeping up with new technology and changing readership habits are two of the biggest challenges for our industry and certainly for The News Tribune.
We spent decades perfecting the printed newspaper and recent years learning to serve readers from a website. The past months have shown phenomenal growth in the number of people reading news content from their cellphones and digital tablets (iPad, Kindle, Nook and Android tablets, among others).
The News Tribune’s mobile traffic (online page views from a phone or tablet) has more than doubled in the past six months and now surpasses 1 million page views a month. Tablet sales have skyrocketed with the introduction of less expensive models, and we expect even more people will be using a tablet after Christmas.
The good news is, tablet users appear to be strong news consumers.
Consider these findings released by the Pew Research Center in October (which means they’re already old):
• 11 percent of adults own a tablet computer.
• 77 percent of owners read news on their tablets at least weekly; more than half read news every day.
• 65 percent spend the same amount of time as before with the news; 3 in 10 spend even more.
• 33 percent have found more sources for news since using a tablet; more than half said they’re also visiting previous sources more often.
• While “checking headlines” is the most frequent type of news consumption, more than 80 percent of tablet owners are reading long-form news stories, the kind that also appeal to print readers.
Tablets also are influencing when people read the news. Generally, people read newspapers in the morning, check websites through the day from work and read tablets in the evening, often while watching TV.
Contrary to what some fear, changes in news consumption and the introduction of new devices doesn’t mean the end of the newspaper business. In fact, each device provides a new platform for news. The challenge is in keeping up and trying to predict where readers will go next.
So here is a guide to accessing the TNT from a mobile device.
From your phone or small tablet with a browser:
• Simply go to thenewstribune.com. Your device automatically will switch you to a version of our website reformatted for a smaller screen. If you prefer, you can click to view the traditional website format.
• Download a free app from the Apple or Android stores.
From your iPad:
• Browse to thenewstribune.com, and a specially formatted version will appear automatically. Bookmark it for future use.
• We’ll soon have a newspaper replica “e-Edition” for the iPad, as well as an even smoother app.
From your Nook or Kindle tablet:
• Buy a monthly subscription to the TNT for $6.99.
BUNGLING THE BURN BAN
Some of you told us about a problem last week concerning Pierce County’s burn ban.
On the local news pages, we ran short stories reporting the burn ban, when it was tightened and when it was lifted.
Unfortunately, for several days our weather page on the back of the Sports section incorrectly said there was no burn ban.
So what went wrong?
We contract production of the page to a company called Weather Underground. Each day it gathers weather information from several sources, performing automated “scrapes” of websites such as that of the National Weather Service. A glitch in the scrape led to erroneous information published on the weather page.
We alerted Weather Underground, and they fixed the problem.
From now on, we’ll also have a member of our copy desk double-check. And we plan to note burn bans on our Page A1 weather report.
VOTE FOR TOP STORIES
Now’s your chance to vote for what you believe was the biggest South Sound news story of 2011. Go to thenewstribune.com/topstoriessurvey. We’ll publish the results at the end of the year.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434