Technology will again drive the way in which content is distributed and consumed in 2011 as the world shrinks to fit itself into the four-inch screen of a cell phone…

Technologically-challenged journalists will have to brace themselves for an overhaul of their mindsets and skills in 2011. If you shrink from gizmos and apps (funky short form for applications), you are just not going to be on the top of things as the profession changes around you. I already feel like a dinosaur when I lug my laptop around and plug in a photon, because if one is in a conference of some kind, others around me increasingly have Pads. Soon they will have 3G too, and become full-fledged MoJos! Whats that? Mobile journalists.

If social media, personified by Twitter and Facebook, dominated mindspace for us in India in 2010, get ready for a host of new concepts this year: mobile media first and foremost, followed by hyper local media, curated media, leaky journalism, and social media optimisation as opposed to search engine optimisation. Mashable.com, the news website and Internet news blog, spells out what each of these will mean in its listing of news media trends in 2011.

New forms

What will be the impact of mobile phones on journalism? The wag would say Niira Radia, but seriously, it is a question worth asking as the firms who got 3G licenses in 2010 begin to roll out their services here. MoJos will come into their own, equipped as much with digital pads, as with mobile phones. When you can do everything you did on a laptop with something smaller, with your speed of download depending on how much you are on the move, the concept of journalism could change to match. Fewer people will be rushing back to their newsrooms to file stories. And as more news organisations gear up to offer web editions or mobile news services that serve up constant updates, it is not just TV news channel reporters who will have to file new angles through the course of a day to update stories. From wherever they happen to be.

Tailored content

Local media will become hyper local. If the suburb or district where you live now determines what the local supplement inserted into your morning newspaper is called, where you are at any given time in the day will soon determine what kind of local news you can access on your mobile phone. Geo-tagged news content and information based on GPS location will become an increasing feature of news services offered. And news companies which specialise in this sort of service, will grow in number. Mashable also predicts that more people will launch news services geared primarily to mobile devices — “tablet-only and mobile-first news companies.”

And then there is this notion of curated services which is rather cheering for the small independent content producer, be it a blogger or a niche website. Not so long ago the little guys in the cyber news space either aggregated content for themselves from the websites of mainstream media (with or without permission), or picked up the odd article and pasted it on their blogs. But given how the mainstream media is going to be increasingly looking for less expensive ways of doing business, the prediction is that they will soon be curating, or picking up content from blogs and niche websites for their publications. With the latter being able to syndicate the content they produce. The big news organisations will go beyond traditional syndicated news services to choose their news from what's available on specialised sites or blogs, in the manner a curator puts together an exhibition.

There is also a whole shift taking place in what directs traffic to websites and blogs. While many may still get the bulk of their traffic from search engines like Google, increasingly Facebook and Twitter referrals are becoming sources of traffic and could become the trend for the immediate future. The statistics say that in 2010 Facebook alone got 25 per cent of all U.S. pageviews and roughly 10 per cent of Internet visits. So if you are a news organisation or niche media looking for more traffic you are not going to focus only on search engine optimisation as a business strategy, but as much or more on social media optimisation. The firms offering this service are going to grow.

And from the news organisations' side, the man or woman power allocated to social media strategy will also grow. The New York Times now has a social media producer, USA Today has appointed a social media editor, and larger news organisations in India are bound to think along these lines in 2011, as they continue to increase their web presence.

Leveraging leaks

And finally, what of the genie Julian Assange unleashed in 2010? Whatever happens to him personally, and to Wikileaks in this year, the notion of leak-based journalism has come to stay. By the end of 2010, some people working in Wikileaks had left to plan a new start up called Openleaks. It is yet to be launched. Also announced is Brusselsleaks, a website which describes itself as “a place to centralise intelligence gathered on the inner-workings of the EU.” And then a third one called Tradeleaks announced itself by the end of 2010. The trend can only grow, with niche nation-based leak sites following suit.