Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NRC Media follows in the steps of The Guardian Eyewitness by launching its own news photography app

Once The Guardian released their nice Eyewitness app last year I expected to see a flood of similar iPad app. After all, newspapers and magazines have a huge inventory of photographic work and all it would take for many newspapers to launch their own photographic apps would be a commitment to the platform and some imagination. A year later it is sobering to think that the industry is really this backward.
(And to make matters worse, The Guardian has not launched another iPad app since.)

This new app from NRC Media, In beeld, is one of the few that has taken the approach of The Guardian Eyewitness. The free app does things a bit differently: where as The Guardian delivers one photo to you each day, where as NRC Media delivers one photo series each day, the number of photos in each series can vary.
This approach makes sense: The Guardian, by limiting themselves to one photo must make sure that photo is something special; here, the editor may decide that the series tells a story better than just one photo would.

Programming wise, the In beeld app works in both portrait and landscape, though it feels more at home in landscape. The app itself is small, only 2.7MB in size, so when the app opens there is a bit of a lag as the app grabs the latest content. The app could use an alert telling users that it is updating.

I tested the app in Airplane mode and it works fine – though readers will have to remember to open the app while they still have an Internet connection to make sure they have grabbed the latest photography.

If I were the publisher of a daily newspaper (anybody got an opening?) I would definitely be talking to my staff about apps such as these. This is a great way to promote your photography staff.

But I think a paper should charge at least a nominal amount of the app (99 cents to $2.99 at most) and rewarding the staff with a bonus or revenue share is a good way to create a more entrepreneurial environment (assuming labor agreements will allow such things). The app fee is also a way of being able to justify and evaluate the financial performance of the app development.