Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Keeping up with the times

As push notifications are becoming a more common way to obtain news than front-page headlines, Boston University’s College of Communication has turned its head toward this trend. Last week, COM unveiled the Center for Mobile Communication Studies, a groundbreaking step in recognizing the current and future changes occurring in mobile news media.

The launch of this center, which is tangential to the COM Division of Emerging Media Studies, will conduct research on new methods of communicating, such as Skype and Snapchat, from a “social scientific standpoint.”

In an interview with The Daily Free Press Wednesday, director of the center and professor of emerging media James Katz said establishing a concrete thesis for evaluating mobile communication is crucial to developing a standard for analyzing future communication methods.

“Mobility is quite unique because in earlier eras, nobody had it,” Katz said. “Emerging media is happening everywhere, and it’s useful to have an organized thesis to attack problems and give focus to mobile communication studies.”

Even though it may seem trivial to analyze something such as texting or sending selfies, which are so innate in the fabric of our daily lives, such research has important implications. As the audience’s preferences and attention transforms, it is vital for news outlets to adapt. If the current market of readers is acquiring their news from The New York Times push notifications, it is crucial to probe why such media attract so much attention for the sake of maintaining readership.

Although the traditional newspaper and 8 p.m. national news broadcast are still alive and (sort of) well, news consumers are increasingly relying on mobile applications to enhance their global awareness.

Leading communication universities across the country are also scrambling to keep up with the ever-changing world of media. The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California plans to offer a course focused solely on using Google Glass to report. And the University of Houston is keeping its students and faculty informed by consistently updating their Snapchat stories.

COM’s Center for Mobile Communication has larger goals than simply teaching students how to take the most flattering selfie. Today’s communication is evolving, and educators owe it to their students to adapt to the new forms of media they themselves might not have yet mastered.

Mobile communication is an inevitable part of our daily lives, and pinpointing how this came to be is essential for analyzing what readers want and helping journalists stay on top of trends while still getting the message out to the public.


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