As The New York Times launches a 5G Journalism Lab to explore storytelling possibilities, a look at how speedier mobile networks could boost newsrooms (Joshua Benton/Nieman Lab)


If there’s one thing you can count on in modern life, one truism that will never let you down, it is this: You want more Gs. That’s true in the thousands-of-dollars sense, and it’s definitely true in the better-mobile-networks sense.

And from a media perspective, better networks tend to produce, or at least emphasize, different types of content. The first iPhone allowed only 2G data, which had roughly the throughput of passing a manila folder with one sticky note inside, and publishers stuck to the relatively basic webpages they were serving their still-partially-dialup desktop audiences. Then 3G came along and enabled the boom in podcasts: downloading shows over the air solved the usability problems attached to transferring MP3s via cable and dock, and podcast episodes were just big enough to be annoying over 2G but still small enough to not choke 3G. Then 4G and LTE made mobile video tolerable and gave us the first janky glimpses of AR and VR.

As you’ve probably heard, 5G’s around the corner, if that corner is “mainstream use is still at least a year away,” and it’s expected to be at least 20× the speed of 4G. So it makes sense that forward-looking