Friday, July 20, 2012

Shooting in Aurora, Colo. tests new digital strategies at major and local newspapers

I awoke this morning, just as I am sure you did, with the news that there had been another mass killing in Colorado, this time outside a theater in Aurora, outside of Denver.
My iphone screen revealed a notification from The New York Times that told the news in one sentence. One click later I was taken to the story by J. David Goodman that said that 14 had been killed when a man, wearing a gas mask, opened fire on movie goers some time after midnight last night.

The story had been recently updated and all the known facts seemed to be present.

I then went to several other sites including the Washington Post where the AP story on the shooting was the lead. (Actually, the mobile app for the WaPo had a story about anemia drugs as the first story, the shooting was listed second.)

The Denver Post mobile website, however, was a mess. The story, seen at right, contained spotty information, and read more like a series of notes than an edited article.

The Post's mobile app is built by Spreed, as Digital First continues to demonstrate a preference for outsourcing its digital media development. The lead story is about the drought, though the shooting does show up as the second story in the list. That story, however, is the most recent version of the story as seen on the website – about one hour old at the time I accessed it (it has since been updated).

It is interesting that all three papers I've mentioned also have the same philosophy concerning their tablet editions. The NYT, WaPo and the Denver Post each have launched tablet editions that mirror their websites – the NYT employing a paid subscription strategy, while the WaPo and Post offer free access.

For those papers, such as The Daily, the Orange County Register's The Peel or The Guardian, which see reading habits of tablet apps as more like print than the web, content updates can sometimes be a challenge. If a paper decides to be designed much like a magazine – The Daily, for instance – editors need to push an update to the app. If the app simply takes in feeds and formats them, then the update can be automatic.