Monday, August 27, 2012

The pains of being part of a chain: Hearst Newspapers updates its iPad edition of the S.F. Chronicle

If you've ever worked for a media company with lots of properties you know the pains involved with being part of a chain of newspapers or part of a portfolio of magazines.

Some media corporations, I suppose, treat their properties with a bit more respect than others. Then there are those that like to remind their properties who is in charge.

Today Hearst Newspapers updated the iPad app for their property in San Francisco. The update for San Francisco Chronicle for iPad is apparently minor, with only "bug fixes and improvements" listed in the app description. What wasn't updated, though, is the problem.

In the App Store the "What's New In This Issue" says the latest issue is "Jun 22, 2012" and it talks of the A's sweeping the Dodgers. The screenshots are apparently from January, which wouldn't be an issue were it not that someone in charge of these things in New York played a bit of a joke on the folks in San Francisco. The main screenshot shows a 49er crumpled in pain after losing the NFC championship game to the NY Giants back in January.  Yep, the corporate folks in NYC get to rub it in, apparently forever.

The main problem with being part of a big media corporation, at least from the perspective of app development, is the forced sameness. In the case of Hearst Newspapers, the apps for the Albany Times Union, San Antonion Express-News, Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle all have the exactly look. The good news is that the apps themselves are pretty good and the reviews inside the App Store are overwhelmingly positive. Each of the apps have been updated this month, with the San Francisco property being the latest.

Whether the individual properties have any input or whether they get to write and update the app descriptions is unlikely. It looks like someone from the west coast will have to call NY to complain about the app description of the SF Chron's iPad app. They better hope the people responsible back east haven't left the office yet and hopped on the train home to Connecticut.