Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Update: Denver Post Colorado Ski Guide

I think it is really important to update the story on The Denver Post's first self-produced tablet edition, Denver Post Colorado Ski Guide (see original post here). I think their effort is far more interesting and exciting now that I know more what they are doing in Denver.

First off, my assumption that the Ski Guide was an existing special section was wrong – instead, it was simply a feature that was part of the travel section. That makes what the team produced for its iPad much bigger and more complex. Also, because it was not a pre-existing section, the business model was not already established. There would be no dedicated ads tied to the section that would naturally transfer to the tablet edition, no single-sponsor already lined up.

The original guide appeared in the travel section in October, then online in November, and now in a far more comprehensive manner for the tablet edition.

"We're obviously trying to capitalize on all platforms, and this is our first foray into tablets, iPad applications, and we hope to be able to produce a suite of products beyond this," Steve McMillan, the editor of the Ski Guide told me this afternoon.

McMillan was also able to tell me that the team producing this first tablet app used the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, which one assumes they will continue to use in their future efforts.

Now, I still have some questions about the business model and why advertising wasn't intimately involved in the creation and sale of advertising or sponsorships – but this is something that is sadly common at newspapers today, the ad side is left out in the cold and then people complain about digital advertising sales trends. I don't think many newspapers will be able to truly create profitable digital products until they stop thinking like a newspaper – with newsrooms and advertising on separate floors – but more like magazines, where the publisher or team leader can interact with each department with editorial not afraid of interference by the ad side, but with advertising informed of the sales opportunities and able to contribute ideas that will lead to a profitable new product.

But I love what I am hearing: a newspaper inside MediaNews Group is experimenting with the tablet platform, driven, McMillan tells me, by Gregory Moore, the Post's editor. What's there not to get excited about?

"This is our first product out of the gate, we really want to build on this and put together a suite of digital products that capitalize this richer environment," McMillan said. "We want to lay in video, audio, photo galleries, interactive maps, everything you can do on a tablet that is exciting to readers."

If you missed the video walk-through of the new tablet app from The Denver Post here it is for you again: