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15.06.2011

Mr Ringtone predicts social media’s key role in news reporting

Moscow, June 15, RIA Novosti, Alina Gainullina – Social media will soon take over from traditional news organizations as major providers of news content, a pioneer of the world’s mobile entertainment industry told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

Ralph Simon, whose Yourmobile/Moviso company was the first to introduce ringtones to the U.S. market, and who is the driving force behind the pop phenomenon Lady Gaga’s mobile strategy, said social media will play the key role in reporting current events, but that commentaries and investigative journalism would continue to be provided by traditional outlets.

“It’s cheaper to produce blogs without investigative analysis,” Simon said. ”But investigative journalism should be protected, because it has always been part of the democratic process.”

Breaking news may begin in blogs, but further analysis should be done by traditional media, he said.

According to Simon, "the question is whether serious material will be in demand by a public grown accustomed to 'content snacking' and whether the Internet will give rise to a new Tolstoy, someone who is going to create the narrative of society."

Simon states that social media is the most promising area in business, as well as for sociopolitical development. 

“It is the most profound change in the media since the appearance of newspapers,” he said. Simon believes that within 10-15 years print media will likely lose all influence they once had.

Barack Obama’s election campaign in the U.S. and the revolutionary events of this year in North Africa demonstrate that social media has the power to create a new generation of activists capable of influencing politics, Simon said. According to him, there is a growing number of socially-oriented internet projects, such as TakePart.com, through which one can find information on various public campaigns and take part in them.

“Citizen journalism can provide a voice much faster,” Simon pointed out. “It can also bring about results for local social and political problems.”

This is why, in his view, traditional media and news organizations should integrate social media.

“You can’t just be a print journalist anymore. The reality is, you have to be a multimedia journalist.”

According to Simon, the main challenge is to get through to the “five-screen” public, whose attention is divided between TV, the web, the mobile phone, the movie screen, and the tablet. Professionals refer to this new generation as “screenagers.”

One other challenge facing traditional media has to do with money. According to Simon, quality online news content should not be completely free.

In Russia, though, the situation is different, he said. “Historically, prominent Russian newspapers were cheaper than Western ones.”

He expects that Russia, with its intellectual traditions and government support of innovation, should eventually become a leader in the social media sphere.

Simon held a workshop in Moscow earlier this month along with Kei Shimanda, CEO of the Japanese high-tech consulting firm Infinita. They spoke about the latest changes in customer behavior resulting from social media and mobile devices. (http://www.digit.ru/it/20110603/382250538.html). The workshop was organized by RIA Novosti to mark the agency’s 70th anniversary. 

On June 24, Simon is expected to be at the Future Media forum, another event to be held in recognition of the RIA anniversary. This forum will focus on issues such as the development of media technology and the influence of new and traditional media on society.

The guest list also includes top managers of major Internet companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, and the founders of some of the world’s major online media, including The Huffington Post and Wikipedia, along with high-profile journalists and media analysts.