Poynter to Launch EyeTrack Research for Tablet

Dec 08, 2011, 15:40 ET from The Poynter Institute

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Poynter Institute today announced it will examine the design of storytelling on tablets and potential revenue strategies, with a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The study will build on Poynter EyeTrack research that has guided news design for two decades. The Knight funds will support the eyetracking, surveys, media diaries and observations of how people use a prototype website or news application on a tablet.

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"With the rapid development of reporting devices, many news organizations are struggling to understand which forms will be most effective," said Stephen Buckley, Poynter's Dean of Faculty. "We have a unique opportunity, even responsibility, to help guide the news industry as it figures out the future of mobile storytelling."

Researchers will measure engagement, how long people read text and advertising, their page views and how much information they retain and understand.

"We're seeking input on our research questions," said project director and Poynter faculty Sara Quinn. "Over the months ahead, we will make our prototypes available to outside groups. This will include the design, code and content so they can replicate the experiments or parse through our data."

"EyeTrack has always been one of the major contributions from the Institute to the industry," said Mario Garcia, CEO and Founder of Garcia Media, and a Poynter affiliate. "A generation of editors, journalists and designers have benefited from the Institute's EyeTrack findings through the years, which has, in turn, contributed to easier-to-read newspapers and online editions."

In awarding the grant, Knight Foundation noted that the research comes at a critical time for the industry.

"With half of all data traffic expected to come from mobile devices by 2015, this research could provide new insights for news organizations about revenue generation strategies that work for mobile and tablet platforms," said Knight Foundation Program Associate Amy Starlight Lawrence.

Initial research in 1990 and three follow-up studies (2000, 2003 and 2007) showed that varied story forms helped people engage with information, then understand and remember what they've read. The most recent project observed 600 newsreaders of print and online news. The findings are still being taught in journalism schools around the world and followed in newsrooms as foundational elements of design.

Poynter plans four rounds of testing over the next six to nine months. At the end of the analysis, Poynter will produce a report in print, online and tablet and present findings at a conference at Poynter and at media gatherings around the world. Poynter hopes to see success as news organizations apply our new norms, benefit from the business and revenue strategies we describe, and readers spend more time and get more benefit from what they read on their mobile devices.

Partners in this research project have world-class experience with conducting research and helping journalists and developers put it into practice. The advisory team includes:

  • Mario Garcia, international design consultant to more than 800 news organizations around the world including The Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post and more
  • David Stanton, researcher and developer, who was a key researcher on Poynter's Eyetracking the News project in 2007
  • Jeremy Gilbert, Northwestern Medill School of Journalism faculty, and Web and mobile developer
  • Rusty Coats, President, Coats2Coats media consulting
  • Andrew DeVigal, New York Times multimedia editor and creator of Interactive Narratives
  • Miranda Mulligan, Boston Globe digital design director
  • Roger Black, design consultant known for his work at Bloomberg News Media, Newsweek, Esquire and Rolling Stone
  • Nora Paul, director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota, who has led eyetracking projects for online media
  • Michael Holmes, director, Center for Media Design at Ball State University
  • Jennifer George-Palilonis, George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor Multimedia, Ball State University
  • Tor Lillegraven, development director, CCI Europe
  • Will Sullivan, director of mobile news, Lee Enterprises, and creator of the popular technology and journalism blog, Journerdism
  • Robin Sloan, manager of media partnerships, Twitter
  • Matt Thompson, editorial project manager, National Public Radio

Working with Quinn from Poynter's faculty will be Rick Edmonds, the media business analyst for Poynter's website, Poynter.org and editor of Eyetracking the News (2007), and Regina McCombs, multimedia and mobile faculty.  Jeff Saffan, Poynter's technology manager rounds out the team. The Danish software company, CCI Europe, is contributing to the project as well.

About Poynter
The Poynter Institute trains journalism practitioners, media leaders, educators and citizens in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter's website, www.poynter.org, is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology. Poynter's News University, www.newsu.org, offers training to journalists, journalism students, teachers and the public through more than 275 interactive e-learning modules and other forms of training. It has more than 200,000 registered users in 225 countries.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

Sara Quinn, Faculty, The Poynter Institute
(727) 553-4343

Jessica Blais, Marketing Director, The Poynter Institute
(727) 553-4707

Marc Fest, Vice President/Communications, Knight Foundation

SOURCE The Poynter Institute