Mobile Alerts Considered Standalone Platform In Newsrooms

Following a 2017 report in collaboration with the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab, which examined how newsrooms use mobile push alerts, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism has revisited the subject to see how strategy may have changed.

In June, Tow began to collect more data from 30 news outlets. The results showed a change in how newsrooms are approaching alerts. They are now considered to be their own platform.

Offering both quantitative analysis and case studies, the report, “Pushed Even Furthers: U.S. Newsrooms View Mobile Alerts as a Standalone Platform,” provided some surprising insights.

Among the newsrooms that took part, the weekly average of push alerts sent to subscribers jumped by 16%, from 22.4 per app per week in 2017, to 26 per all per week in 2018. In addition to increasing the number of alerts, newsrooms also increased the length of alerts by over 30%.



Finding also showed the use of images, emojis and videos in notifications was rare, with seven outlets using emojis in alerts in 2018. Those included Quartz, BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed News and HuffPost.

The case study found outlets are shifting from using push notifications for only breaking news and extending them to various categories, such as analysis, general and first-hand accounts. Those categories accounted for more than 25% of all alerts sent out during Trump’s family-separation policy, which was at the forefront of news during the time of the study.

Further, the study found national and regional outlets face different but equally important dilemmas when deciding how to send a notification and which part of a story to focus attention.

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