Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Washington Post issues an update to its WP Politics app that adds a Twitter content aggregation feature

Last night The Washington Post issued an interesting update to its iPad political news app, WP Politics. The update adds a new section to the app called "The Forum" which aggregates the tweets of political leaders, journalists and pundits, and organizes them in a logical and attractive layout.

To access the content, the user will not need their own Twitter account, though to join the conversation by replying to a tweet the user will need to sign into their existing Twitter account or create a new one.
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WP Politics remains free with a "premium users" option, priced at $2.99 per month. The app had been previously updated in July to bring in election maps, and again a few weeks later to add in polling data. Now, with the conventions upon us, and the Presidential election only ten and a half weeks away, the WP Politics app has gained quite an impressive amount of content and interactive features.

"The Forum enables new and experienced Twitter users alike to quickly see what the political experts, office holders and newsmakers are saying without so much as creating a Twitter account, let alone finding, following and organizing hundreds of people,” said Beth Jacobs, General Manager of Mobile, The Washington Post. "The best part of this tool is that we can apply it to countless other topics, instantly creating a framework for users to access great content from expert Tweeters."

Ken Dodelin, Director of Mobile Product Management at The Washington Post, said the new "The Forum" feature will enable the people who do not use Twitter to access the content and discussions found on the social network site.

"We've tried to make it easy for them to get a positive experience with the content of Twitter without having to set up a Twitter account, not having to follow people, put them in lists, organize those lists, all that sort of stuff," Dodelin told TNM yesterday. "We've done that work for them."

The Forum is organized into six groups: News Outlets, Campaigns, Partisans, Office Holders, Fact Checkers and Jesters. Each area has at the top the trending tweets with the individual media outlets or campaigns found below. The user can shift the position of these sources, these tweeters, to place them in any order the user desires.
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In essence, The Washington Post is acting as the curator of political discussions, news and commentary on Twitter.

"We think this will be a unique presentation of the political content of Twitter," said Dodelin.

The app was developed in partnership with Bottle Rocket, which has put its name on a long and growing list of very good apps such as the app from NPR, PBS, Discover HD for iPad, AARP. Food Network in the Kitchen, and many others.

This Twitter aggregation feature is a bit of a bold move for a newspaper in that a large portion of the content is not their own. Newspapers have experimented with aggregated content, often gathered and presented by third party entities. This new addition to WP Politics, though, is curated and designed by the paper. It certainly is a better way to use content from a social network than the clumsy efforts of news outlets such as CNN.

“The Forum is a great example of how publishers can use Twitter to add value to their storytelling,” Adam Sharp, Head of Government, News and Social Innovation at Twitter is quoted in the press release for the app update. “The Washington Post is a trusted source for political analysis that Twitter users will benefit from during this year's election.”

Here is a short video that walks through parts of The Forum section of WP Politics: