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Another step change in publishing

By 17 September, 2013
  • Thinking

digitalpublishingI've talked a lot about how the publishing model has taken a fair few knocks in recent years. The poor old thing really has had a hard time with digital – good old fashioned models like, "don’t worry, the advertisers will pay for it", are gone. Ad revenues are taking a tumble and everyone is rushing toward a subscriber model. Publishers are now seeing a future not too dissimilar to what they had before, but with far less revenue.

Then – some really cool app comes out and changes everything.


Firstly, you should know what the most used app is on my iPad: flipboard. I'd say I've been using it for a year and, when I started, I thought it was revolutionary. I fed my obsession with the news, flipping from article to article fed in by tweets and feeds. It made me happy and I enjoyed the news.

The problem is – I'm a veracious consumer of the news. I would read and read and come across articles that pulled from the same sources. Each had a slightly different angle, but it was the same news. I became bored once I had seen five of the same stories on two flipboard pages; they were the same.

So, I started hunting for an app that somehow aggregated it all. I wanted a news reader that showed the same articles together. I wanted to then compare those articles to see if there was a different angle to the story that might be relevant and interesting to read.

Well, there really wasn't much out there; and the apps that were available were really early, not-so-good attempts at putting articles together.

Not one to give up, just last night I stumbled upon News360. I'd read a review somewhere that said it provided news stories from every different angle – just what I’ve been looking for.

I downloaded it and it does exactly that – very well. For example, there may be a news topic about Obama's response to Syria from the major news outlets, then a view from democratic leaning, republican leaning media. Then, you get an Arab perspective; a Chinese perspective; and a business perspective. There are also photos and videos to accompany the articles.


I think this is really quite interesting: news coverage from every opinionated/regional/political angle. Perhaps an example of what balanced journalism should be, but also something that would be really difficult to do these days given the current volume of media outlets.

News360 have done a great job – and they’ve also got me thinking: why aren't journalists using technology more? I realise they can't give a full and comprehensive view these days because content production and the speed of news is so fast – you would never finish an article.

But what if a journalist changed their approach from one that reports news from sources, and becomes a curator of sources, giving meaning to the reader via the sum total of that aggregation?

News360 is still a little clumsy, though. They don’t always get the aggregation of topics quite right, and it's clear a journalist can add value by being in control of this process. Journalists can do this by pulling in users’ views, promoting input and output and directing users to other useful sources and following steps. I'd love that. It would also mean a step forward in audience development; acknowledging that a content creator is not in control of the process – it's the consumer.

I think there are some tricks in News360 for the old model here. Maybe journalism needs to change; not only should journalism give the news, but also become a part of the news experience. This might just be the start of it, too.