Friday, July 8, 2011

The Sunday Sun starts tweeting; new Sunday edition will act as a replacement for News of the World

Ready to take over its Sunday spot from the News of the World, The Sun on Sunday is already tweeting, having created a new Twitter account.
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So what is The Sun saying on Twitter?

The_Sunday_Sun Sun On Sunday
Arrest made in News of the World scandal: British Prime Minister David Cameron called Friday for full inqu... http://bit.ly/qNvnHa

Yep, they've begun covering the scandal, as well as football news and the usual.

Tribune Company announces that it is moving page design for the Hardford Courant to Chicago

This is an incredibly stupid idea: the Tribune Company today said that it is eliminating jobs at the Hartford Courant and moving page design to Chicago. The jobs cuts are bad enough and inevitable when you are being run by a company that has no new ideas, but the decision to move page design is absurd.

"Collectively, the changes we've implemented will reduce expenses and position CT1 Media to capitalize on marketplace opportunities," The Courant reported its publisher Rich Graziano as stating in an e-mail to employees Thursday.

Let me tell you why this is a bad idea:

I served as a publisher at McGraw-Hill in the nineties and was fortunate, at the time I was brought on board, to have a large and highly skilled production staff. Fully trained, this staff not only was able to produce our daily trade newspaper, but had plenty time left over to train me in desktop publishing (thank you).

But I recognized immediately that the production staff was as much a resource to the success of the San Francisco unit as the editorial or sales staff. As a result we soon launched a monthly magazine and custom publishing ventures.

But then McGraw-Hill brought in a new division president who love this book, and neither my unit nor the division as a whole ever recovered. The decision was made to move page design out of San Francisco, which meant depending on corporate services for production of the magazine and the various custom publishing projects we had sold.

To make a long story short I soon left the company to publish another magazine that competed directly against McGraw-Hill, the magazine was shuttered and all the custom publishing contracts were eventually lost.

Just as bad, the San Francisco unit had had its legs cut off, its ability to create new products, to respond to the market.

The writing is truly on the wall for The Hartford Courant.

The media and government oversight: have no fear, the fox has been placed there to take care of the chickens

As Richard Nixon would tell, if he could, it's not the crime that will bring you down, but the cover-up. In the case of the phone hacking scandal in the U.K., one distressing fact is that the cover-up has been perpetrated not just by News Corp. but by Scotland Yard and even the Press Complaints Commission, the entity that is supposed to be the self-regulating authority for the media.
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As word spreads that News Corp. has been involved in the deleting of evidence, and that Scotland Yard has now raided the offices of The Daily Star, one has to wonder whether the public can depend on their elected officials and those empowered to enforce the law to actually conduct an effective investigation – especially when many of those same officials owe their positions to the same media company being investigated.

Like a mafia don that has the police on their payroll, News International paid money to the police for information, and to others in the form of hush money.



The financial impact of this scandal is growing every day for News Corp. Today, Renault, the French car maker (remember them?) has come and announced that they will not be advertising in any News International newspapers "despite the publisher's decision to close the News of the World," reported Brand Republic.

"As a result of the seriousness of the continued allegations of phone hacking by News of the World, Renault is reviewing its media advertising plans, pending the formal investigations," the company said in a statement. "We currently have no advertising planned in any News International press titles in the immediate future."

AdWeek yesterday, its new headline font designed to be read from 50 feet away, said that ad buyers here in the U.S. are expressing concern over the phone hacking scandal. (Shouldn't Michael Wolf buy new contacts rather than have the rest of us have to deal with one sentence web pages?)

But reading the story one can see that there is no "there" there. Each ad agency person quoted in the story expresses minor concerns but none said they are pulling any advertising, and some even come right and state that they believe there should no concern about News Corp. properties. The same company that proclaimed that there were death panels in the new health care law is apparently a very legitimate place to place their advertiser's money.

News of the World iPad app pulled from the App Store

Lost in all the news about the closing of News International's News of the World was the fate of the paper's iPad edition. Would this be used as a lifeboat for the brand? Nope.
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Today the News of the World for iPad app was pulled from the App Store. (A Google cache of the iTunes page can be found here.)

As News Corp. offers up sacrificial lambs in its effort to save its BSkyB deal, the media giant will be launching a Sunday edition of its other British tabloid The Sun.
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The Sun already has its own tablet edition ready to go. The Sun for iPad is a free app that offers readers the first 30 days of content for free, then charges readers £4.99 per month.

While this morning's Sun reports on the closing of the News of the World, its website is strangely silent on the news that two former editors, Andy Coulson and Clive Goodman, have done the perp walk this morning for the Metropolitan Police. Guess it doesn't do the morale of the newsroom much good to report what happens when get caught doing "journalism" for News International. Or maybe the editors were too busy listening to the conversations of celebrities, politicians or the victims of crime?

The newspaper is, of course, a typical News Corp. product by may have to sleeze up a bit if it is to full the hole created by the demise of News of the World. I have great faith the folks at News will be able to do it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

National Union of Journalists says editors have walked out at The Sun to protest News of the World sackings

The National Union of Journalists is reporting that sub-editors at The Sun newspaper, a News International property, have walked out in protest over the sacking of the entire staff at the News of the World.
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Now I hate passing on reports like this without confirmation, though these kinds of rumors seem to be the lifeblood of the tech sites. So I would be cautious, but the source should be credible.

From the union's website:

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This outrageous manipulation of the legal right to be consulted about redundancies shows the contempt that the Murdoch empire has for its loyal staff. True to form, he believes he can buy his way out of his obligations. This is an act of damage limitation to salvage Murdoch’s reputation and that of News International – both of which are now tarnished beyond repair.”

Update: Well, it appears that the editors at The Sun were not going to risk getting replaced and have returned to work. This only goes to prove that my initial thought, that I should just ignore the story as minor, was probably correct.

U.K. online news commenters smell a different agenda in 'News of the World' closing announcement

I noticed it in the comments of UK online readers immediately: many were speculating that News International decided to close the 168 year old newspaper as a way of resurrecting the paper later, but without its unions.

Now The Guardian has caught on, quoting a spokesman for the National Union of Journalists as stating that "all 200 News of the World staff are to be made redundant, although they will be invited to apply for other jobs in the company." Lovely, no?

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet is quoted by www.journalism.co.uk as stating "Closing the title and sacking over 200 staff in the UK and Ireland, and putting scores more freelances and casuals out of a job, is an act of utter cynical opportunism."

No word from the paper's staff as it appears the company has blocked Internet access, or at least access to Twitter.
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The News of the World website announces its own closing. But don't count on it staying closed.


It seems uttering improbable to me that News International would so quickly throw away the News of the World brand, and that Rupert Murdoch himself would approve the closing of the paper he worked so hard to acquire back in 1969. But it does seem typical of News Corp. that it would take advantage of the situation to both protect management while at the same time severely trim costs. In any case, News International has already announced a Sunday edition of the Sun.

I also find it interesting that this phone hacking case is raising so much anger in the U.K. while revelations that Fox News was handing out position papers, or that it has kept so many of the announced Republican candidates for President on its payrolls has not generated much of a buzz at all here in the States.

Guess if it doesn't involve sex Americans simply don't care about media corruption and scandal. Funny how the Brits are so old fashioned about these things.

Update 1: Excellent video recap of the scandal by Nick Davies of The Guardian. Very well done.

Update 2: The Guardian is reporting that Andy Coulson, formerly the Tory government's director of communications, was asked today to present himself to police on Friday, along with a second former senior News of the World journalist.

Radical Media updates its massive Gagosian Gallery app; update brings in new content and keeps app fresh

When your app weighs in at over 600 MB it needs to be damn good if the users is going to keep it on their tablet. Taking up so much room, the temptation is always going to be to dump the app to make room for more mindless games.

The other way to justify all that storage space, is to make sure that app us updated occasionally.
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A little over a month ago, Radical Media released an app for Gagosian Gallery. The free app is a provides an overview of the exhibitions and projects at the gallery, and the developer promised to update the app quarterly.

In the meantime, however, the app has been updated after only three weeks. This update adds content and keeps the app fresh and top of mind.

In addition to a few navigation and stability fixes, the app update also adds films by Richard Phillips and Francesco Vezzoli, new artwork images from artists Piero Golia, Joel Morrison, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince, and Franz West, as well as some updated artist biographies.

This is a free app remember, so the expectation of frequent updates is not there, though they are very much appreciated. But publishers should try to remember that if they produce an app which does not have automatically updated content (because it brings in RSS feeds, for instance) then they should avoid the trap of thinking their paid app edition is finished just because it has launched into the App Store.

News of the World to be shuttered, massive advertiser boycott followed endless revelations on phone hacking

News International has announced that it will close its troubled U.K. tabloid, News of the World, after its Sunday edition in response to the phone hacking scandal that has shocked much of Britain.
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The news of the closing followed reports of massive advertisers defections in response to the public's outrage that the paper had engaged in phone hacking of British citizens, celebrities and even politicians.

The Guardian reports that James Murdoch, who has has gone mostly missing during the scandal while Rebekah Brooks remained the public face of the company, issued a statement announcing the closure:

Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.
Things got much worse for the paper recently when it was discovered that officers at Scotland Yard were being paid by the tabloid to provide the paper information on investigations.

The full text of Murdoch's statement announcing the closure can be found after the break. No word on the fate of News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, though this announcement is no doubt an attempt by News Corp. to avoid further bloodshed, as well as to defuse growing pressure to have the Tory government reexamine the wisdom of allowing News Corp. to complete the takeover of BSkyB.

NYT links Kindle Edition subscriptions to online access

The New York Times this morning announced that it will fulfill its promise to its Kindle subscribers that in exchange for a paid Kindle subscription they can now access the NYT while avoiding the pay wall
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The NYT Kindle Edition costs $19.99 per month, and since March the paper has said that starting today subscribers can gain access to the NYT website by going to www.nytimes.com/kindleaccess.

With this added benefit of online access, Kindle New York Times subscribers can enjoy complete, around-the-clock coverage of breaking news, video, audio, multimedia and blogs from the world's premier news site," said Yasmin Namini, senior vice president, marketing and circulation, and general manager, reader applications, The New York Times Media Group.

This is a big win for Amazon, as well, as it makes the Kindle Edition that much more valuable.

"The New York Times continues to be our bestselling newspaper in the Kindle Store," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. "We hope our customers enjoy this multi-tiered approach to getting their news, both on their Kindle and with full online access to all the features on NYTimes.com."

The phone hacking case: When is a scandal not really a "scandal"? When it ends up changing nothing.

If a company engages in illegal activities, immoral ones that the public finds repulsive, one might think that the company in question might find itself in a bit of trouble. But over in the U.K., talk that News Corp.'s take over of the British Sky Broadcasting Group, known as BSkyB, might be held up over the ever growing phone hacking scandal have been quickly squashed by the Tory government. News Corp. will add BSkyB to its portfolio, be assured of that.

The Guardian this morning reported that Jeremy Hunt, the British Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, has received over 100,000 "submissions", most opposed to the take over of BSkyB. But rest assured, "the secretary of state will not be rushed, he will be fair," a Tory said in the House of Lords today.
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Meanwhile, the number of major advertisers who have now said they would suspend advertising in the News International owned tabloid the News of the World continues to increase. Sainsbury, Proctor & Gamble, O2, Butlins, Virgin Holidays, Halifax, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi are all said by The Guardian to be ending any advertising with the newspaper.

Normally this would be a major blow to a media entity. But all this is not just about ad revenues. After years of building up its ties to the Tories, News Corp. is about to cash in its chips. If News of the World, or News International's CEO Rebekah Brooks has to be sacrificed so that the BSkyB deal can proceed, so be it. In the end, owning a major media distribution channel will be worth far more to News Corp. than one slimy tabloid, or one loyal employee.

With over 10 million subscribers, BSkyB is the largest pay-TV entity in the U.K. It is the prize, and until the scandal grows to the point where the government seriously considers pulling the plug on the deal then it is kind of hard to really call the phone hacking episode really a "scandal". Instead consider it merely "good copy".

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Late afternoon update: Phone hacking scandal gets a little more serious for News Int'l as advertiser boycott begins

Nothing quite gets the attention of a media company quite like an effective advertiser boycott. And if company tweets are to be believed, that is what News International, Rupert Murdoch's U.K. media division is facing due to the phone hacking scandal. Also, having a dedicated Wikipedia page on your scandal is not a good sign, either.

Mashable gathered together the various tweets from companies such car makers Ford, Renault and Mitsubishi, all making clear that that are not now, nor will be in the future, spending ad dollars with the tabloid involved in the scandal, News of the World.

It is usually assumed that media types are fully up to speed on the scandal, but that might not be the case. So here are two of the introductory paragraphs from the new Wikipedia page on the scandal:

The scandal began in 2006, when the Metropolitan Police laid charges against Clive Goodman, the News of the World's royal editor, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, alleging that they intercepted voicemail messages left for members of the royal household. Both men were jailed in 2007. Allegations against the News of the World in relation to illegal voicemail interceptions have continued in subsequent years, implicating other journalists and staff at the paper; numerous public figures, including politicians and celebrities, were found to have been targeted by the interceptions.

The Metropolitan Police began a new investigation into phone hacking allegations in February 2011, at which time more than twenty civil cases against the News of the World were also active. Attorneys for the victims allege that as many as 7,000 people had their phones hacked by the News of the World, and have estimated that resulting litigation may cost the paper's parent company, News International, £40 million.[1] In July 2011 new allegations emerged that the cell phone of a kidnapped schoolgirl had been hacked into by an investigator working for the newspaper, and messages left by her family listened to and then deleted.
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Late this afternoon The Guardian reported that George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a member of the ruling Tories, had been contacted by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in regard to the scandal. His name and home phone number, he was told, had been found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, two people at the center of the controversy.

"The MPS had no further evidence to suggest George's voicemail had been hacked or attempted to be hacked," a spokesman for Osborne said.

Meanwhile, and this is one of those stories where the word "meanwhile" can be used a lot, Rupert Murdoch has gone out of his way to say that News International's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, would be be retained and put in charge of the company's effort to save itself.

If that sounds like the kind of words George Steinbrenner would have spoken in regards to his manager Billy Martin, about a week before canning him, well so be it.

One thing that keeps getting asked is whether News Corp.'s shady behavior would in any way effect their plans to take over BSkyB, the British satellite television company. The answer is always the same: no, slimy behavior in no way precludes a company from being in television. They might have added that it might even be a prerequisite for ownership.

Even later update: The Guardian is now reporting that as the then editor of the News of the World Rebekah Brooks was given evidence that her paper was working on behalf of two murder suspects who wanted to know what a detective was investigating.

The Guardian: Brooks was summoned to a meeting at Scotland Yard where she was told that one of her most senior journalists, Alex Marunchak, had apparently agreed to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to run surveillance on behalf of Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, two private investigators who were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan. The Yard saw this as a possible attempt to pervert the course of justice.

That last line is perfect example of understatement.

It turns out that members of the Metropolitan Police were being paid directly by News International.

Developers starting to get the idea concerning AirPlay; Apple still promoting apps that use the streaming feature

One of the most widely read posts here at TNM concerned the introduction of third party AirPlay streaming. Clearly some developers were excited about their new ability to stream video (and audio) content from either an iPhone or iPad (oh, yeah, and don't forget the iPod touch) to an Apple TV for viewing on large screen televisions.

While quite a number of apps were updated to add AirPlay streaming, it is still surprising to find an app with video content not offering the feature. It's equally surprising that there haven't been more apps created specifically to take advantage of AirPlay streaming – after all, video streaming an app is almost the equivalent of being your own broadcaster. What's cheaper adding in a few lines of code to an app or buying a network.

Some new apps, like MasterChef Academy US for iPad, are smart uses of AirPlay. The app for the Fox show was created by the production company responsible for the show itself, Shine Limited.

The $4.99 app features over 150 minutes of how-to cooking technique videos – repurposing the show's programming to create a totally new product. Very smart.

(Ironically, the biggest complaint about the app is that some have found that the AirPlay doesn't work. I haven't bought the app, though I might, in order to test if this is true. Anyone have a promo code? Fox? Shine?)

Apple continues to promote AirPlay enabled apps in the App Store with its own special page 9see below), but this really only features a few of the apps using AirPlay.

One of my favorites that really should be promoted by Apple is NFB Films for iPad, an app from the National Film Board of Canada. Obviously any app that features short films, such as this one, is perfect for AirPlay streaming.

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The New York Times responds to user complaints and issues update for its iPad app

Only yesterday reported on that The New York Times had issued updates for its mobile applications. Unfortunately, the complaints rolled in as users found the new app performing horribly.
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But late last night the NYT issued another app update for iPad owners that supposedly address the bugs introduced into the previous update. This update also comes with some important instructions for users in the app description:

IF YOU EXPERIENCE PROBLEMS AFTER UPDATING, PLEASE DELETE THE NYTIMES APP, RESTART YOUR DEVICE, AND REINSTALL FROM ITUNES

I did not encounter any bugs in the update only because I know longer have the NYT app on my iPad. The company's absurd pricing of its new pay wall pretty much forces users who own an iPhone and iPad to decide which app to use. It's no contest: the mobile app is essential for reading the NYT on a smartphone, while the iPad app is only a modest improvement (if that) over reading the site on the iPad's Safari browser.

Morning Brief: The U.K. phone hacking scandal widens; LetterMpress app recreates hand-driven printing press

While much of the British (and even American) press points its fingers at News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., over the phone hacking scandal, the real loser here is the media's credibility, in general.

While the public's confidence in the newspaper and broadcast news industry has increased slightly, still barely a quarter of the public trusts the news media. Things are going to get worse, at least in England.

Yesterday the Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to hold a public inquiry into the scandal caused by the revelation that News of the World, a News International tabloid, had hacked into the cell phone message systems of victims of the 2005 London bombings. A private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, was employed by the paper to do the hacking.

But all the handwringing in the world will do little to change the media landscape, as even Cameron admitted when he said that the News Corp. takeover of British Sky Broadcasting Group, known as BSkyB, would go forward, uninterrupted. Cameron recently met one-on-one with Rupert Murdoch, and in 2008 a mini scandal erupted when it was learned that Cameron took free flights to Greece to meet with the head of News Corp.



Released yesterday into the App Store, LetterMpress is an app for the iPad that recreates the experience of working with a traditional letterpress. The app costs $5.99 to download and originally was a Kickstarter project, raising $39,495, though their goal was only $15,000.
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The app replicates traditional printing press techniques, with users assembling wood types and art images, even hand-cranking a virtual letter press to create prints, posters, books, invitations, greeting cards and photo albums.

"As someone very familiar with letterpress, I was amazed and thrilled to see the creators took time to accurately and respectfully integrate the traditional tools and processes into the user experience, said Mary Austin, Co-founder and Board President, San Francisco Center for the Book in the company's app launch announcement. It's also a fun and playful introduction to the art of letterpress and typography."

Neenah Paper, the world's leading manufacturer of fine printing papers, is sponsoring the introduction of the LetterMpress app.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Microsoft updates its Bing for iPad app, adding 'lasso' feature that proves far easier way to copy text

Microsoft's Bing app is one of many apps that I have downloaded and then deleted at some point. The app has gotten pretty good reviews inside the App Store, but I've never really seen the point of the app.
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My problem is simply that I don't want to have to open up a new app when doing a search. Since most of the time I already an using the browser with its built-in Google search function, the idea of going into another app never really appealed to me.

However, Bing for iPad is really for those occasions when you grab your iPad to do a search exclusively. Yesterday, for instance, a friend was asking me about the name of a song with certain lyrics. I simply grabbed my iPad and opened Safari to find the answer – a very common thing with tablet owners (instant on being the big advantage tablets have over PCs).

But the new Bing for iPad has me installing the app once again. The updated app adds a "lasso" feature that makes searching much easier than the copy and paste feature built into the Apple iOS, and it retains its voice activated search capability.

"Today, it can be somewhat painful to search on a tablet when you’re engaged in reading something; just copying and pasting pieces of text from a webpage to a search box can take up to nine steps on the iPad," the Bing Team wrote on its blog page. "With Lasso you can circle and search in just two steps."

One huge negative, however, are the ugly pop-up adds that Microsoft has in its search feature. They are ugly, intrusive, and really an outdated way to introduce advertising.

Although Apple did not talk about voice command upgrades that it plans for iOS 5, the word is that Apple is heading in this direction. This will make the Bing app once again a bit less useful once these features are built into iOS, but the lasso feature is one that Microsoft might have for their own for a little while at least.



Microsoft remains a strange company. The promo video below is a good example: it is shot well, but couldn't they afford an external microphone?

<a href='http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&vid=5ac23e96-2489-4466-8433-d56ab7a83cdc&src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Bing for iPad Update: Searching without a search box'>Video: Bing for iPad Update: Searching without a search box</a>

NBC Universal's mobile apps for enhanced viewing of the Tour de France angers viewers by 'double dipping'

Despite the lack of an American leading the pack, there is still quite a bit of interest in cycling's premier event, the Tour de France. The race, first staged in 1903, covers about 2,000 miles, and can be seen live and taped on Versus, the NBC Universal owned cable channel.
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No surprise then that NBC would want to put out an iPad app to capitalize on the event by offering its viewers an enhanced experience.

The problem is that quite a number of cycling enthusiasts had already signed up for the network's online enhanced video package, costing $29.95. The package gives online viewers live and exclusive video, live GPS tracking of the race, and the ability to follow your favorite rider.

But the day before the race was to begin, NBC launched a universal app for the iPad and iPhone, as well as an Android version. While the apps are free, to access the live video you have to pay $14.99.

The iOS version found in Apple's App Store makes this additional purchase very clear, but Google's Android Market does not spell out this little detail.

But users in both stores are trashing the app for basically the same reason: if you paid the $29.95 to gain online access and then downloaded the mobile app you will find that you will have to pay once again to access the content on your mobile device. Reviewers have accused NBC of "double dipping" by requiring the separate payment for the mobile app.

Reviewer "Jeffrey Jones" writes "I already paid $29 online to watch live, why is the app asking me to upgrade and pay $15 to watch live video?! Can't I sign in w/ the username to my existing online acct and be able to watch w/ the app???"

Another writes "it now seems clear why NBC did not release this app until the day before the Tour de France 2011. They must have been trying to dupe as many people as possible into purchasing the Silverlight PC/Mac version access for twice the amount of the app."

It's a ripoff, no doubt about it. But this situation is caused by not being clear with the customer, and Apple's own requirement that apps not contain direct links to out of app purchase mechanisms. A little creativity can get you around this, but the rules are pretty vague. If the app had simply been a "reader" app, where an already existing subscription would instantly give you access to the content without an in-app purchase, this would have avoided this mess.

But if they really wanted to go this route – with two different purchase options – it would have been better to have had the app ready several weeks early, and then test the app review teams with a more customer friendly approach. In the end, it is always better to have to deal with the app review teams than to purposely make your own customer's angry.

Narratives for Digital Distribution

Pedro Monteiro passed along this in-depth look at digital narratives. Monteiro is a consultant for INNOVATION Media Consulting and coordinates tablet publications for Impresa Publishing (Expresso, Visão), a division of Portugal's largest media company. This article first appeared on Monteiro's own website Digital Distribution.

The way we tell stories in the print media has been, mostly, the same for some time now. Space constraints and graphic layout have made the narrative flow a broken one. With the advent of digital devices and rich new ways of shaping content, it is time to rethink how we produce and present our stories.

With this article I want to explain why the broken narrative experience happens and how we can find ways to prevent it on digital publishing. Furthermore, I will propose a way of planning, producing and designing narratives that won’t suffer from this problem. In the end, I’ll take a fictional story and share how I would plan it, from production to presentation, using the ideas proposed on this article.
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For this article I will refer to linear narrative – that with a beginning, middle and an end. Think of it has going to the theater to watch a movie. You go into the room and the movie starts. You can be watching Memento, a traditional non-liner screenplay. The movie goes forward and backward in time. But as a part of the audience when you experience the going to the theater to see Memento, you’ll be in a linear narrative: you go, you watch the movie (regardless of it’s timeline narrative), the movie ends, you get out of the theater and your linear experience ends. You went to the theater and watched a story, without interruption, regardless of how the story was told.

Likewise, when describing non-linear narratives, I will not be focusing on their timeline, but on interruptions of the narrative itself. Like going to the movies to watch Memento – and being interrupted in the middle by a documentary about the film itself, and then having the main film start again where it was interrupted. You went to the theater to watch a story, but the experience was interrupted by another story, regardless of the way both stories connected.

Let me start with a simple story. Think about a lecturer who may have inspired you – if you can’t remember one, I advise you to visit TED’s website, where you will find amazing people, with amazing ideas, telling amazing stories.

OK, now that you have a lecture as an example, let’s analyze it. What makes it such a brilliant storytelling experience? Apart from the speaker’s ability to deliver a good story and from the talk’s content, a good lecture is a linear flow of information, with a beginning, middle and an end, or conclusion. That’s the basic of a story; we’ve learned how to do it from an early age.

Let’s look a little deeper. At the beginning of a talk, the speaker will tell you the subject of her story and what she will try to achieve (teach you something, share an experience with you, etc). She will then introduce the subject in small steps. Most talks these days are accompanied by visual aids – the speaker will share either the key points of her talk or some visual information to help explain the knowledge that is being shared.

From the beginning of the story, the speaker takes her audience into the talk’s theme, stopping for visual aid whenever it is needed. The audience experience is like being walked through a garden, the speaker holding each person’s hand while they stroll. At the end of the talk, with the conclusion, the audience has been told a story. Just like the ones we were told as children; just like the ones we are told everywhere, in movies, books, TV shows, by our friends at a bar or by our family, during supper, at the end of a story full day.

Now allow me to tell you yet another story. Imagine yourself in a lecture hall. The room is packed and the upcoming talk is the one you came to hear. The subject is something you are interested in, and the speaker is the best in the field.

The light goes out, the audience is quiet except for a cough here, another there. The speaker takes the stage with an ovation. This is the talk everybody has been waiting for!

The talk starts with an introduction about the subject. The speaker is taking the audience by the hand, strolling around. All of the sudden, in the middle of a sentence – “and so we can conclude that…” – the speaker stops. She then says “you know what? I’ve just remembered that I have this amazing picture, somewhere on my computer that relates to this subject.” She finds the picture and displays it for the audience. It does make sense and the picture has added another layer of information. But then, after the picture is shown, the speaker starts talking again, right where she stopped the sentence before – (“and so we can conclude that…”) “subject A will give us a light about subject B…”

Now imagine that this talk, the one you and the rest of the room were really looking forward to, keeps having such interruptions. The speaker will keep ‘throwing’ stuff that relates to the subject, to the story being told, but with no regard for the interruptions.

The storytelling would be awful. The narrative would not be linear. It would be a mess.

Here is a graphic visualization of such a narrative:

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This last example shows how we either present, or consume, news on most distribution channels right now. In print, because of physical space constraints that pages impose and the way graphic design copes with it, the presentation and consumption of a story is a non-linear narrative experience. Pictures, text, captions, etc., all relate to the story being told, but the way the bits of the story are laid out reinforces its non-linearity. Let’s look with more detail into this.

Consider the following magazine layout of a story. It has some of the content you would expect from a magazine: flowing text in columns, pictures with captions, graphics, and a ‘box’ with a related story.

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Every aspect of this story is related and enhances the information being communicated. But since we are presenting all of this content on 8 pages, some compromising must be done. Graphic designers must find the best way to make this story presentable, readable and compelling. Working within the physical boundaries of pages, the text is set on columns and flows from one spread to another without much control of where it breaks from one column to the next, from one page to the next, or even from one spread to the next.

Furthermore, in order to lay out all of a story’s elements, designers must ensure that a graphical ‘important’ element is presented on each spread. This means that the pictures of the story will be placed on the spreads to favor visual enhancement. The same happens with the secondary story and the graphic of our example.

Morning Brief: NYT updates its apps, will be doing so again; Italian media, opposition claim measure hidden inside austerity bill will save Berlusconi millions

The New York Times began the Independence Day holiday weekend by launching updated apps if iPhone and iPad users.
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Unfortunately, users of the apps, especially the iPhone app, have been complaining about the new apps performance. As of this morning, there lots of complaints inside the App Store of slow load times and crashes.

My update went fine without any crashing, and while the initial launch was a bit slower, due no doubt to the added sections, every else seems normal. It is possible that some uses continue to reboot their devices occasionally. This is a common issue among iPhone and iPad users as they tend to see their devices more like old fashioned feature phones and not like mini computers that need to be rebooted every once in a while to keep them running quickly.



The Associated Press is reporting this morning that Italian media companies, as well as the political opposition, are upset with measures hidden inside a 47€ billion austerity bill that would allow the holding company of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s family, Fininvest, to avoid paying 750€ million to a competitor. The payment was ordered following the takeover of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy's largest publishing house.

The AP story fails to mention dirty details of the Fininvest acquisition of Mondadori,you can read the details here.