News on mobile platforms: trends and best practices

Robb Montgomery, multimedia consultant and founder of Smart Film School, discussed the trends in mobile-first content and best practices in the field during his workshop at the International Journalism Festival’15 in Perugia.

Photo: Chiara Brambilla

Robb Montgomery, pioneer and expert in mobile reporting, is consulting the major media companies, such as CNN, The New York Times and Radio Liberty, on the topics of multimedia journalism and mobile news. At the workshop on Wednesday, he shared his answers on the most burning question of the digital era: how can we deliver global news on a 8-inches screen without losing the sense of it?

According to Montgomery, the current best tools for mobile news are:

1. Circa News
The application introduced the format of a news feed composed of “news cards”.  Each paragraph, quote, or picture is presented as a separate part of the news story, making it easier to follow for on-the-way audience. The users can subscribe to the stories and get notifications every time there is an update.

Circa News App
Circa “News Cards”














Source: Circa App

2. Zite
Zite application offers the customized news feed based on users’ choice by thematic content categories. Along with manual customization, the app uses an algorithm to track users activities and interactions with content in order to suggest other relevant articles.

Zite App
Zite App Content Suggestions














Source: Zite, Inc.

3. Snapchat Discover
Snapchat Discover is an example of successful collaboration between the major news companies and mobile platform. As Robb Montgomery says, “the content always goes where the audience gathers”, and often it’s easier to create meaningful presence on existing platforms rather than develop your own solutions.


Source: Snapchat

4. CNN Mobile App
Talking about the major media companies as providers of mobile content, Montgomery pointed at CNN as one of the big players who understand the mobile logic of storytelling. CNN mobile app has usable vertical design, that provides only short video clips previewed at half-screen size.

CNN Mobile video
CNN News App Feed










Source: CNN App



5. RTÉ News Now
On mobile platforms the smaller companies can compete very well with the sharks of the media business world. RTÉ News Now app proves it with the thorough visual storytelling and nuanced design of its news feed. The app understands well the logic of mobile news consumption and allows users to collect and save the stories they want to read later.

RTE News Now App
RTE App: saved content














Source: RTÉ App

What is next?

The mobile news are getting shortened and re-packed, while the videos are turning vertical, so what happens next? Robb Montgomery’s forecast includes the further transformation of news content under the influence of iWatch and other devices, the new formats of video such as multi-angle streaming, and establishment of mobile newsrooms. The world’s first newsroom for mobile journalism, S.M.A.R.T., was designed by Montgomery himself and it is located in Tbilisi, Georgia. The innovative media center is operating without computers, only on mobile devices, and it provides the flexible space for creative work, broadcasting and education.