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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged news app

There’s a new journalism aggregator in town, called Compass – and it’s attempting to be a Netflix for news.

Compass News - the app

Isolde Walters spoke to Matilde Giglio about the subscription-based app:

It’s a bit like your Facebook timeline but instead of that girl you used to go to school with who is in the Caribbean yet again and endless dog videos, it’s all serious quality journalism. Maybe a little too serious. One criticism I would make is the selection of heavy political and economic news did make me feel like I was running through the reading list of a PPE undergrad. I’d recommend a little thoughtful fluff – I’m a big believer in fluff – to add a little glamour and human interest to the mix.

That’s a smart insight. Any product like this that only surfaces serious news will fail, because the market for serious news and only serious news is too damn small. Can you show me any major newspaper or magazine that doesn’t have a lighter element? Chances are if you can, it’s a “need” publication – trade press, scientific journals – rather than a choice publication.

A Netflix for news could work. But a Netflix for only serious news? Never.

A little context here: there have been numerous efforts to build something like this before. They’ve been described, variously, as “an iTunes for news” or a “Spotify for news“. We’re on to “Netflix for news” now. There was News International’s much-rumoured attempt to build an iTunes for news, before abandoning it and going for paywalls. There’s Blendle which is still around. There’s magazine subscription apps like Issuu.

I suspect they struggle because they’re caught between the opposing poles of loyalty to a particular news brand (through political, cultural or geographic affiliation) and the free flow of news through Facebook and Twitter. Best of luck to Compass – they’ll need it.

Apple News in use

Some big news hitting about Apple News – the news reading app that ships with all iOS devices. The Washington Post:

Apple is getting really serious about the publishing business. The company announced Tuesday that it’s rolling out some big new tools for Apple News that can lure more writers and editors to the service — and improve it for current partners, as well.

Just to be clear – anyone can sign up and publish to Apple News, and have been since the start. Here’s One Man & His Blog on there, for example (Link will only work on iOS9 devices). This new move brings us the the ability to publish using the richer Apple News Format stories, though – and access to advertising tools with it. Up until now, only Apple partners have had that level of access – the rest of us have just been pushing RSS feeds into the system.

Big publisher privilege is on the clock

Like Facebook Instant Articles, we’ve had a period of time where the big publishers have had an advantage, but now the playing field suddenly gets more open. Privileged access is clearly a time-limited deal. And it doesn’t look like it’ll be too complicated a process – you can build Apple News Format stories direct in Apple’s interface, or push them from your own CMS. There’s a WordPress plugin for Apple News Format already.

Pending review in Apple News

(With Instant Articles, Accelerated Mobile Pages and now Apple News Format all hitting us in a matter of months – this must be a shitty time to be running your own custom CMS, as that’s a tonne of development work right there. Anyone sitting on top of Drupal, WordPress or their ilk will just drop in a plugin and get on with it…)

Advertising (Apple) News

But that’s not all – Apple is starting pushing News harder with an advertising campaign:

If you’re in San Francisco, Chicago or New York, you might see the ads on billboards and in airports; the rest of you will have to look for it online.

And they look like this:

Apple news ads

Apple’s clearly taking its time on this product – iterating it, feeling its way into how it should work, and then ramping up the focus on it. But hey, at least it’s seeing development – unlike its previous effort Newsstand, which launched, and then languished. The interesting piece is that Apple News feels much more digital than Newsstand ever did – that was very much a print replication, shovelware sort of concept. Apple News feels very natural on iPhones – and iPads in particular.

Apple news on iPad Air

And other information is dribbling out – like the news about a sponsored article format.

Apple News certainly doesn’t feel like a “must publish” platform just yet – but it sure as hell feels like something any publisher should be watching carefully.

Apple’s Eddie Cue, speaking to CNN’s Brian Stelter:

“We’ve only created the apps that we think everyone uses every day… We really wanted to create a single app that all customers could go to, to read all their news — no matter what they are interested in, no matter what topics, no matter what publications they want to follow — and get that experience that they’re used to with our products, where it looks beautiful, it’s really easy to read and yet it provides all the content available around the world.”

So, yes, they really do want to be the one single front end to your news-reading experience. And they do highlight the key elements of newspapers missing from the web: discovery and browsing of unexpectedly interesting news stories. News certainly has the potential to deliver that – if it gets better at its algorithmic curation.

News in Tom Foolery

Also of note is the fact that Cue’s definition of “news” might not match ours:

“We thought of things from, you know, even church newsletters to a stamp club… A lot of those organizations today still print and mail, which is even more expensive.”

Niche titles and small organisations which don’t have access to app development resources can get themselves into Apple News – and allow their members or audience to follow – a neat idea I hadn’t considered, and which could drive use of the app.

Here’s the full interview:

[via 9to5Mac]