Tallent: Technology means media must adapt

The careers of students now entering the field of media will be shaped by developing technologies.

�Technology is what�s reshaping everything,� said Bill Tallent, CEO of Mercury Intermedia. �It�s what�s reshaping the music industry, it�s reshaping the telephone companies, it�s reshaping the PC laptop industry and it�s reshaping the television industry. � That�s where I see a good portion of your preparations (for the future).�

Tallent addressed this issue in a presentation for incoming students of the Contemporary Media & Journalism Department at the University of South Dakota Monday afternoon.

His company builds iOS, Android and WP7 mobile apps for newspapers including the USA Today, the New York Times and the Boston Globe, among others, as well as such televisions news channels as CNN, Fox News and Univision.

Tallent told the students that apps will replace printing presses, paper carriers and newsstands in their dissemination of information, which will necessitate a new business model for the media industry.

�This is an important, transformative new medium. It is going to change journalism whether we want it to or not, so my recommendation is to take it very seriously,� he said.

Students can prepare themselves for this new environment by giving themselves as broad an education as possible, Tallent said.

�Prepare prepare yourself to do as many things as you can while you�re here, but the most important thing for you to hear from me is that when you leave here, you continue to get better,� he said. �The more prepared you are, the more equipped you will be to see an opportunity when it swims in front of you.

�I don�t have much advice for the faculty other than put in front of the students the broadest possible set of perspectives that you can, because none of these students has any idea of what is ahead of them, and they need to be able to be prepared to make all sorts of shifts throughout their life,� he said.

At the same time, he said, when developing a product for a client, an individual must limit themselves only to a highly-personalized intake of the news � that is, what pertains to the client and the product.

�To be aware of everything is to be aware of nothing,� Tallent said.

The apps developed by Mercury Intermedia have been downloaded more than 20 million times by users worldwide to distribute more than 35 billion stories per year.

Tallent said the best apps are multi-dimensional, provide a superb user experience, are multi-media-centric and are served by mobile middleware.

�Good design results in high user ratings, high user ratings result in high usage, high retention rates, high engagement times, which means more revenue, which means more success,� he said. �You�ve got to be able to have a great user experience.�

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