Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Journal Register and MediaNews Group continue to outsource their app launches despite claims of being 'digital first'; series of new apps come from Spreed

The two newspaper companies which are being operated under the umbrella company Digital First Media, Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group, today have launched a series of new stand-alone iPad apps through the app developer Spreed.

New apps for the Journal Register Company are The Oakland Press for iPad, The Saratogian for iPad and Daily Freeman for iPad. A fourth app, Macomb Daily for iPad, had launch earlier.

Meanwhile, MediaNews Group launched new apps for several newspapers, while updating several others. Launched were Eureka Times-Standard for iPad and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin for iPad.

Recently Journal Register Company filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years. Looking at these new tablet apps, which do not require a paid subscription, and contain no advertising, it is hard to see how these apps will help the company's bottom line. The outsourcing of app development adds costs but offers little upside when you ask nothing back from either readers or advertisers.

Looking at the direction the newspapers operating as Digital First Media are heading it is easy to be completely cynical about the future of the newspaper industry. But many journalism sites still have a soft spot for the company and continue to sing sad songs whenever they hear of more layoffs or another financial setback.

But a look inside the App Store shows zero apps that have a sustainable business model, something that might be useful if the company truly is serious about surviving. Being committed to digital media does not mean not having respect for the bottom line - really.
Left: The Oakland Press is leading with the death of Andy Williams, but is having a bit of a headline issue; Right: The Saratogian app is similar to all the other new apps: simple text layouts, no ads and no subscriptions required.