Apple launches "News" where "anyone" can publish: will it help pay for journalism?

Adland: 

Facebook's doing it, HTC is doing it (with News Republic), even educated bees are doing it, let's all create a News App. Apple has already joined in the news-app creating game, with an app simply called "News" that aims to be the best news-reading app out there - constantly updating from large and small sources around the globe. I like this idea, as I have issues (and will soon leave HTC due to these issues) with News Reading Apps that restrict which sources I can select for my news. It might be because I've lived in the RSS era, I kind of expect to be able to select anyone-I-want, as a source, not just choose between pest and cholera in the handful of pre-selected default shit sources.

As explained in "...publishers panic", this is a very logical land grab. The hardware and software creators have seen that the platform owners are winning, so the only logical thing for them to do now is to offer a better platform. With this they get a share of what the audience wants, the content on it. Apple are not shy in stating their goal, to create the best news app, as this goal will also according to them free up content creators from having to make apps that deliver the news. This is true. Unlike other apps, this one will be like a step back to the days of now defunkt RSS readers, where the reader chooses who their sources are, and not the app or hardware creators. This frees up small magazines, large magazines, international news telegram sources. your local church, those knitting clubs who write mailing lists, that kitten breeder site and whatever else oddness that you may be reading to concentrate on what they do best which is write their articles, while Apple delivers it to the phones and pads.

"News organizations today have lots to worry about: Each of them has to worry about building their own apps, the interfaces, the user experience." Particularly for local news outlets that can't afford their own apps, "This gives them an opportunity to focus on what they do really well, which is the journalism part, and let us handle the technology piece of building the apps and distributing them."

Now, this sounds really altruistic of them. How kind. What's in it for them? Advertising money, of course. Apple have now added ad blocking ability to all devices, and in combination with this News reader, they're now at the table negotiating the ad space price with us. At one point Google practically owned the web, now Apple wants their share. You can of course still choose whether you want to let Apple share your space or not - sell via them or sell on your own.

"We have two choices for anybody who is providing content or news. One, they control the ads and they keep 100% of the revenue, so we don't get any revenue at all. they can also come through us and we will sell the ads for them. In those cases, they keep 70%."

Now, that sounds pretty good, actually, and if you want to hear more please look at this interview at CNN, where Apple's senior vice president for Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, explains their future plans.

As long as this promised is fulfilled, I'll be quite happy. This has the makings of becoming the replacement for what RSS was, but only if any reader can choose anything they want to read via the slick News app that Apple is promising. The problem usually is that once we have a new gatekeeper, they will never let just anyone through without vetting them.

So we're now weeding our news sources according to who owns that platform (and device) once again. I bought a phone to use it, not to have the phone creator decide what I should read.

Do you see this app as a way for upstart news organizations or tiny publishers in small towns to distribute their stories?


"I absolutely believe in that. It was one of our main goals when we were building Apple News. 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."

Can we hail this new app as the hero that could potentially help pay for journalism, since it frees the publishers up from all that hard work of of creating apps? Who knows, once they said the same thing about RSS, except RSS wasn't at the ad-money negotiating table.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Leave a comment