Monday, October 17, 2011

Arizona Daily Star releases first tablet edition that mirrors website rather than the print edition

This is the second of four short posts on tablet editions.

Not all new media apps are trying to mirror their print editions. Because RSS feeds from websites are easy to bring into apps, many newspaper apps are really much more extensions of their websites than tablet versions of the print edition.
A good example of this is the new iPad app from the Arizona Daily Star. The Lee Enterprises owned daily serves Tucson, and until just a couple of years ago competed with the Tucson Citizen, before its owner, Gannett, closed down the print edition (it still has a web presence here).

Arizona Daily Star for iPad is a free app that mirrors the paper's website, as well as its business model. There is no Newsstand support, and reader who download the app do not have to pay to access the content.

A quick comparison of the news found in the print edition and the lead stories online shows that there the content varies considerably. The iPad app, with its refresh button, would therefore always mirror the website's content. As for the website, its design is really lacking, making this app a better option.

The front page of today's Arizona Daily Star, courtesy of Newsseum.

I have written in the past critically of newly launched newspaper apps that do not seem to have a business model, lacking both subscription options, as well as advertising. This new app contains a banner ad along the bottom of the articles, as well as a rectangle ad placed rather unattractively square in the middle of the home page.

If I were leading this paper's digital publishing efforts I would have preferred to have called this app for iPad – not only because it is a more accurate reflection of the content to be found, but also to preserve the Arizona Daily Star for iPad name for a paid tablet edition with Newsstand support.

Otherwise, this is a very usable app for Tucson residence who want to read the website of the Daily Star on their tablets and who will prefer this design to the original website.