Friday, May 13, 2011

Salt Lake City becomes one of the few cities where both of its rival daily newspapers now have tablet editions

On April 18 I wrote a piece about RSS driven newspaper apps looking at several new tablet editions including the newly launched tablet edition of the Deseret News. One month later, its arch rival, and also distribution partner, The Salt Lake Tribune has released its own first tablet edition. This makes Salt Lake City one of the few cities in America where competing newspapers each have their own iPad editions (New York being obviously another).
The two daily newspapers in Salt Lake City are very different from each other: the Salt Lake Tribune is the larger paper, with a daily circulation of 113,032 based on the latest ABC report, while the Deseret News has a daily circ of 73,075. The Trib is owned by MediaNews Group, the group formerly run by Dean Singleton (he is still “executive chairman of the board"), while the News is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both papers, however, are published under a joint operating agreement (JOA) by the Newspaper Agency Corporation.

Both newspaper apps are fairly similar looking, as you can see above. But the Deseret News app is a universal app, hiding its mobile origins fairly well on the iPad. The SL Tribune app, however, is solely for the iPad. In fact, in its own post about the app, the paper uses the word "native" to describe the app (as opposed to "replica").

"This is part of a continuing effort to deliver Utah’s most complete news report in whatever format readers want," Salt Lake Tribune Deputy Editor Tim Fitzpatrick is quoted in the Tribune story introducing the app. "This is our first step into tablets, and there will be many more."
Both apps are free to download and both apps offer their readers free access to the content. Since the Deseret News app was the first to appear in the App Store, and it was completely free, I wonder if the SL Tribune felt it had to go free, as well, or whether this is the kind of decision forced upon the newspapers by their JOA.
Both apps treat stories pretty much the same, allowing font size adjustments, though the SL Tribune app allows for the changing of the font from Arial to Georgia. The SL Tribune app also utilizes push notifications, while its rival's app does not.

For readers in Utah, however, the two papers probably provide enough differentiation that their apps don't need to be that different. The Deseret News, for instance, in its story today about presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a Mormon, calls the candidate "Mitt" in its headline (which I found to be extremely creepy). Meanwhile, the SL Tribune app description brags that its app contains the political cartoons of Pat Bagley, who was quoted in a story that former President Bush "radicalized me ... I used to be kind of a moderate Republican. I've been pushed to the left."

Whether one app is better than the other I'll leave to you. But one thing for sure, the SL Tribune app is a vast improvement on the replica apps released by other MediaNews Group properties such as those of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.