Friday, August 31, 2012

Off for the Labor Day holiday

As a bit more of TNM's traffic comes from outside the U.S., it is necessary on occasion to remind readers of an upcoming holiday so as to explain why posts have slowed or stopped altogether.

This Monday is the Labor Day holiday. In a country that is pretty radically anti-labor, the holiday – like Christmas, I suppose – has lost its meaning.

Labor Day parade, circa 1906
Made a federal holiday in 1894 by President Glover Cleveland, Labor Day is not very often used to celebrate the working man or the labor movement, but is used as an excuse to have Labor Day furniture sales, and the like.

There are no fireworks displays on Labor Day, no speeches about the conditions of the working class or remembrances of those killed in past efforts to form unions, demand benefits or living wages. It is a day of rest, of outdoor parties, and of watching baseball games or the first college football games.

TNM will be giving all its employees (me) the day off so there will not be any new posts on Labor Day. But I hope you, too, celebrate the holiday where ever you are and in whatever peaceful and pleasant manner you feel is appropriate.

McClatchy releases a series of replica editions; lacking Newsstand and in-app purchase support, the apps require readers to find a way to subscribe to the paper's e-edition

Earlier this week I wrote a post about the new tablet-only sports magazine launched by the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth. Digital only publication launches by U.S. newspapers are a rare event and so I was very very enthusiastic about the experiment. I was all the more surprised and pleased because the tablet magazine was coming from McClatchy, a company that has definitely not impressed me with their digital efforts.

I spoke to a couple of people involved with the DFW OT Sports app to get some background. It appears that the project went through the usual bureaucratic hurdles, but it has launched and now the paper can gain valuable insights into the ins and outs of the tablet publishing platform.
Today, however, McClatchy has released a series of tablet editions that reinforce my earlier impression of the company. The new apps, Bradenton Herald for iPad, E Cenre Daily Times for the iPad, The Myrtle Beach Sun News, and Merced Sun-Star for iPad, are all produced for the newspaper chain by Olive Software, a maker of replica editions and Flash flipbooks.

The app descriptions for each of the new apps are incredibly bad: one or two sentences, written as if the person couldn't be bothered.

None of the app descriptions tell you the most important thing you need to know about these apps – that they require that you currently be a e-edition subscriber to the newspaper. Without this, a local reader can not use the app to access issues.

None of the new apps support Apple Newsstand, and none allow for in-app purchasing of a subscription.

So how much does an e-edition subscription cost, a reader might ask themselves. Well, that's a bit hard to figure out. A look at the Merced Sun-Star website does not feature e-editions. A look under the "Subscribe" navigation button shows that the paper is only interested in selling print subscriptions.

The website of the Bradenton Herald does not promote digital subscriptions either, though way at the bottom you'll find a link for e-editions (they're $4.95 a month).

Prior to finding these new McClatchy apps in the App Store I was reading a story about an Athens woman who threatened to jump from a building – another austerity victim, I suppose. She ended up being rescued.

But these McClatchy tablet editions immediately created an image in my mind of a newspaper executive, standing on the ledge of a high rise, screaming about their digital media woes. "Will no one save us?" the exec cries.

Behind the screaming newspaper pro emerges a sales person from a digital replica maker company. "I will!" answers the vendor... who promptly pushes the newspaper executive off the ledge.

New Hearst Television election aggregates local television content; Apple App Store reviews appear suspicious

Yet another new app involving the upcoming Presidential election has been released into the Apple App Store and Google Play. Election-2012 comes from Hearst Television and is designed exclusively for mobile rather than the iPad (iPhone link, Google Play link).
The Hearst app aggregates the digital content from the company's portfolio of local TV stations, which brings in lots of content, but at the same time makes the app only really useful for users where a Hearst station exists.

For instance, since Hearst owns no stations in the Chicago area, election coverage would naturally be lacking.

The app does have a section for national politics, however, so users will have to decide for themselves whether the app seems to be useful for them.

As for the apps' design, I think this is attractive, but the fonts seem to me to be chosen for a larger screen – either the computer screen or a tablet. My eyesight is pretty darn good (with reading glasses on) but I know my wife would find some of the fonts impossible to read. I also found the videos slow to load – so slow, in fact, that I gave up trying to watch any, though this may simply be a server issue.

Because this new app would seem to have limited appeal based on the location of the television stations, I wondered what App Store reviewers had to say about the app – would some complain about the lack of local coverage?

What I found disturbed me.

For such a new app Election-2012 seems to have a lot of written reviews already in the store. All the reviews, with the exception of one written today, are five-star reviews.

All those five-star reviews are short one liners like "Great App!" and "This is particularly good for both local and national content," and all but one of these were written on the 29th, the first day the app was available.

OK, so who are these reviewers, what other apps do they like?

Inside the Apple App Store, unlike Google Play, one can click on the reviewer's name to see what other reviews that person has written. So I did just that and what I saw was that in most cases the review was the only one written by that user name. In at least a couple other cases I saw that if the reviewer had written about any other apps those apps were other Hearst Television apps – and all were given five-stars.

I have to say, my jaw dropped.

One can speculate about what is going on here, but I suggest you judge for yourself – as will Apple I assume.

Checking further, I can report that other Hearst Television apps do not seem to share this suspicious pattern of app reviews.
Left: The list of local television stations; Middle: the video menu; Right: video proved very slow to load.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New RedEye guides to Chicago neighborhoods promoted by... the Los Angeles Times?

Some advertising emails you delete immediately, some you actually read, and others require you to look really closely at in order to believe what you are seeing.
This e-mail promotion, seen at right, got me so confused that I had to let it sit there in my in-box a while before clicking. As someone who once lived in Los Angeles, I was trying to figure out why the L.A Times would be sending me an email about RedEye, did they launch the tabloid in L.A.? (No.) Create a second tablet app under the RedEye name? (no.)

River North, the neighborhood being talked about in the promotion, is most definitely a Chicago neighborhood. The LA River, as I remember it, is really just a long stretch of concrete for most of the year.

Obviously, this is a mistake on the part of the Tribune Company, owners of both the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune. But this won't go down well with the folks in Chicago who still want to be known as "the second city" no matter what the population is in L.A. – hey, at least we have a pro football team.

But I really found it interesting that this promotion would come out of the L.A. office, link to an L.A. Times website address, and include the Los Angeles Times logo at the top (not seen here). Has the Tribune Company moved all marketing to L.A.?

Amazon opens new app stores in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain in front of new Kindle launch

A visit to will reveal that the Kindle Fire is no longer available for purchase (at least not a new one), as the giant online retailer is expected to announce new Kindle tablets next week at an already scheduled press event.

In preparation for what must be a roll out of new Kindles in Europe, Amazon has opened up app stores in the U.K. Germany, France, Italy and Spain. To access the store the consumer needs to download an app onto their device, something that can be a bit tricky on Android phones as user must revise their settings to allow for "non-Market applications."

Amazon's big selling point to Android users is that the app available in their store, versus Google Play, are tested before acceptance.

"We evaluate and test games and apps before making them available in the Appstore so we ensure customers have a great experience with the games and apps they purchase," Jim Adkins, Vice President of Amazon Appstore, said in the company's announcement. "Amazon has spent years developing innovative features that help customers find and discover the products that are right for them and have applied that know-how to the Amazon Appstore. We’re delighted to extend that experience to our European customers."
The name of the app stores Amazon have set up vary a bit from country to country: in Germany, France and Italy Amazon is using the name App-Shop, while in Spain it is known as Tienda Apps, and in the U.K. Amazon Appstore for Android. "Téléchargez l'app-shop Amazon pour téléphones et tablettes Android," reads the notice on the French site for Amazon.

While much of the tech world is writing about the possible growth in market share Amazon should enjoy with any wider launch of its devices, I think it is only a matter of days (hours) before we hear some analysts warn of the effect any wider launch of Kindles would have on Amazon's bottom line. Last year's launch of the Kindle Fire was touted by the retailer as boosting revenue, while also depressing profits.

Media app updates: Amazon updates its iOS Kindle app, The Sporting News improves navigation of its free mag

Most of the media app updates have been, how shall I say it, less than exciting. In fact, I've gotten quite a number of press releases lately that try really hard to pretend that their updates are major, when at best they are bug fixes. Other press releases have touted new app launches, when the reality was that the app first appeared in the Ap Store months ago.

But this morning, prior to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, a number of interesting and more significant updates have been issued.

Amazon, for instance, has issued an update to its Kindle app for iOS devices. The official name of their app, by the way, is Kindle – Read Books, Magazines & More – Over 1 Million eBooks & Newspapers, which would laughable were it not for the fact that the official names of the Zinio and Kobo apps are equally ridiculous.

The list of changes to the Kindle app are extensive and will no doubt be appreciated by the thousands of users of the app:
New features in 3.2:
• Adjustable Margins (iPad): Choose from three layouts for your preferred reading experience.
• Rapid Highlights: Quickly mark important passages for handy reference later.
• Improved Brightness Control: Refined the brightness slider to be more responsive and optimized font hues for better viewing.
• Highlighting for illustrations and photos in Print Replica Textbooks: You can now highlight photos, illustrations, tables, and charts.
• Notebook for Print Replica Textbooks: Notebook compiles all your bookmarks, notes, and highlighted passages, photos, and images. Tag and filter the most important items to study.
• Improved navigation for Print Replica Textbooks: Quickly flip through textbook pages and easily jump back-and-forth using the page thumbnails and back/forward buttons.

The Sporting News has updated its iPad app of the same name this morning.

The app description says that the update makes the navigation menu "native to the app, improving speed of navigation and providing access to entire issue with a flick of the finger."

Besides bug fixes, the other changes really involve new content rather than changes to the app itself.

The Sporting News remains a free app that provides its sports coverage free of charge to iPad owners. The app resides in the Apple Newsstand in order to support automatic downloads.

The app has some very strange reviews inside the App Store. So many of the one-star reviews say the icon has disappeared when it, of course, has simply moved into the Newsstand – a good reminder to developers that moving a stand-alone app into Newsstand requires you to make sure your readers know where to find the app. I think this is a problem mostly among those iPad owners who manage their apps solely through the tablet rather than iTunes on their Mac or PC. When app updates occur on your PC you can more clearly see that the icon has changed from a square icon (signifying a stand-alone app) to a rectangular one (signifying an app inside of Newsstand).

The Pac-12 launches a streaming sports app with limited carriers and limited geographic relevance

Just in time for the beginning of the college football season Pac-12 Networks launched a new iPad app that promises access to live events and that an iPhone app will launch soon. But if the purpose of the new app is to expand the reach of the conference coverage then it fails to do this rather spectacularly.
Like all such network streaming apps, the weakness of the approach taken is that one must sign into their cable provider account in order to access the content. The ability and willingness to reach a deal with the cable and satellite providers determines the usefulness of the app.

In the case of Pac-12 Now, the newly launched app, the number of cable providers that have signed up is very limited – just Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks are on board. Neither DirecTV nor Dish are part of the service, and neither are Cox and Comcast. In some ways, one could say that the new app reinforces the notion that the Pac-12 is a minor conference (compared to the SEC and Big Ten) and becomes more so when even their app is limited to only those on the west coast.

This, of course, is the problem when contracts are negotiated that surrender streaming rights, or at least limits them. Powerful leagues, such as MLB, can not only negotiate huge new contracts such as the new ESPN 8-year deal, but retain the ability to control their online streaming rights. But let's not be naive, the lure of a bigger contract from the cable providers often overrides any New Media concerns.

The HBO GO app had to launch with limited partners, as well – though with a longer list than that of this new Pac-12 app. But deals were quickly struck so that now the app description doesn't even list the cable providers, saying simply "Free with your HBO subscription through participating television providers."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Affinity Publishing launches a tablet edition for the luxury car brand Aston Martin

A piece of advice I have given in the past that bares repeating is that if a publisher is looking to see especially fine examples of tablet publishing one should look at the digital magazines being produced for the car companies. Not only are the tablet magazines free, as you would expect from something created for marketing purposes, but they usually stretch the platform to the limit.
Yet another good example was released today: Aston Martin Magazine. Where as many of these company magazines are produced by the company's ad agency, others are produced by the custom publishing house. This digital magazine for the luxury car brand was released by Affinity Publishing Ltd. and appears under their name in the App Store (a bit of a mistake if you ask me).

The app is free, as is the content, and right now there is only one issue available in the app's library – the summer edition, which weighs in at slightly over 184 MB and is an excruciatingly slow download. That is the apps only real problem.*

The app does not utilize Apple's Newsstand, which probably makes sense. The digital magazine is, after all, primarily a marketing piece, and it is only published quarterly.

How the publisher was able to get this digital edition into only 184 megs was a miracle. Maybe this digital magazine is not built for the new iPad's retina display - if so, you won't notice, it looks great.

Also, the app contains several videos. One, embedded into an ad, is clearly housed outside the app, which saves space. But the one embedded in a story appears to be in-app, so to speak.

The digital magazine can be read in both portrait and landscape (portrait see above, and landscape see in the video below).

Looking at the digital edition's staff credits at the back of the magazine Affinity does not credit an outside developer for the app – I would be interested to know if Affinity was able to build this themselves using a digital publishing platform, or whether there is an uncredited developer.

Whatever the case may be, this is another really good tablet edition for a car brand. And what a car brand it is!

* Three other nitpiks: Following the staff information is an ad – the back page ad, if you will. But tablet editions don't really have back pages and it certainly isn't a premium position to be stuck in the back of a digital edition. The publisher probably should have moved that ad up.

Also, some of the ads were not optimized for the tablet edition so their text is unreadable as there is no pinch-to-zoom used here.

Finally, the digital edition is difficult to navigate. There is a nice, innovative table of contents, but once inside the digital edition I found no way to move from front to back other than swiping.

These may sound like major objections, they aren't. Check out the magazine yourself, and dream of driving an Aston Martin to the local grocery store.

Retweet: Tech reporting at mainstream news outlets often lacks 'depth, expertise, and reflection'

It is pretty easy to pick on the tech press, so many stories revolve around picking up rumors from 'Asian tech sites' and regurgitating them for easy traffic boosts. (It is my own opinion that those 'Asian tech sites' aren't really writing about the new Apple iPhone but are talking about local restaurants – I have no evidence on this, but I'm sticking to my opinion since most of the Google translations still make no sense to me.)

But it is also true that many of these sames tech sites are doing a great job of aggregating content and creating new content at such a rapid pace that they are putting their old media colleagues to shame. News on the web at tech sites are at light speed compared to the work at many old media outlets.

But with speed, of course, comes a superficiality that eats at the credibility of many news outlets. Eventually, I fear, readers tire of bad information, even if it is dwarfed by good information.

Unfortunately, many of the bad reporting traits of tech sites seem to have migrated into the tech coverage being written for mainstream media outlets.

Steve Wildstrom, writing on the Tech.pinions website, talks about the coverage of the Apple-Samsung patent trial and some of the misinformation being spread. In particular Wildstrom highlights reports from writers from the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times that said the verdict involved Apple's pinch-to-zoom and "rounded rectangles" – they didn't, but the faulty coverage has now led many online commenters to believe that Samsung was nailed by the California jury unfairly – a hometown jury, some have called it.

How did so many get this so wrong? I fear it betrays something ugly about the way tech reporting works–and doesn’t work–these days. Depth, expertise, and reflection are all lacking. So is serious research. If you are going to write about a patent case, it’s a good idea to read the patents in dispute. Reading patents is not a particularly pleasant business. The language is tedious, legalistic, and often deliberately obfuscatory; you want to give the Patent Office the required information while giving away as little as possible to your competitors. But reading the claims, the critical section of the patent, isn’t all that difficult. There are a total of 101 claims for the three patents and they fill about five printed pages. Yet I suspect very few of the people who wrote about the trial actually made the effort. If they had, they would have known that the range of gestures covered was much narrower than has generally been reported.
Wildstrom talked to The Verge's Nilay Patel via Twitter to work through the actual verdict, and his entire post is worth reading.

I think it is great that Wildstrom is taking these mainstream media sites to task, and maybe it might even do some good. My own focus on what is being written on the pure play tech sites sometimes mean I miss the articles written on tech news by outlets with far larger and less tech savvy audiences.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

McClatchy's The Star-Telegram launches a tablet-only digital sports magazine into Apple's Newsstand

The Star-Telegram, McClatchy's daily newspaper that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has released a tablet-only digital sports magazine into Apple's Newsstand. DFW OT Sports is a very rare experiment in digital publishing, and one that should be applauded by all newspaper professionals – and its a pretty damn good digital magazine, as well.
The new app for the iPad costs readers $1.99 right up front, and definite move away from the usual practice of giving the app away for free then making the reader buy their issues from inside the app. Here, DFW OT Sports makes the reader pay for the very first issue upfront, then offers a monthly $1.99 subscription from within the app.

The approach has merits as the publisher knows right away how many readers one has. The free approach generally leads to lots of downloads but a more limited number of actual sales. The downside to this approach, however, is that the reader may buy the first issue but forget to subscribe. It would be interesting to see two identical apps take both approaches to see which proved best long term.

The first edition of DFW OT inside the app weighs in at 56.8 and is clearly designed specifically for the iPad. The size of the download is limited by the fact that the magazine is designed for portrait only. The August edition contains lots of photography and animated pages. Video is, as far as I saw, strictly limited to an ad for USMD Hospital. But now that the tablet magazine exists reports carrying smartphones might now remember to shoot video as might the sports photographers covering games.

(Good video content is a serious issue for many newspapers, and sports video is especially dear.)

The tablet edition already has a media kit online (PDF) and it looks like the paper is going to attempt to sell digital ad packages of 3 and 12 month durations that include not only ads in the digital magazine but other forms of digital ads as well as print.

The app does not say who and how the digital editions are being created, and calls to the newspaper have not been returned (typical, it is sad to say). But there are links to PressRun so it may be that the Star-Telegram staff is using that platform to create its tablet magazine. (The PressRun platform comes from Mobile IQ, though that name has since been dropped after that company – Mobile IQ, that is – was acquired earlier this year by Quark.)

If the folks in editorial or advertising return my calls I may be able to provide more information and update this post.

In the meantime, here is a look at the front of the August issue of DFW OT Sports:

Another Advance newspaper reduces its press run to three days a week, The Patriot News won a Pulitzer Prize for its Penn State scandal coverage

For those Advance Publications newspapers that were still printing their papers seven days a week, the writing certainly had to be on the wall following the cutback in schedules at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Alabama newspapers.

Today Advance announced that its daily newspaper in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania market, The Patriot News, would be reducing its schedule to three days, beginning in January.

The plan follows the scheme followed in Louisiana and Alabama: a new company is formed, in this case PA Media Group, that will handle the editorial print and digital duties. A second company, Advance Central Services Pennsylvania, will handle print and delivery duties.

“We are not making this move lightly,” said John A. Kirkpatrick who is the current publisher and will become the president of PA Media Group. “We understand how important the daily print paper is to a large number of people in our region. However, this is a major step to make sure we are leading, not trailing, in the world of innovation and solutions.”

Once again the excuse being given is digital. “The plan to reinvent ourselves into a digitally-focused organization with a quality print product three days a week is aimed at making sure that kind of work continues long into the future,” Kirkpatrick said in the announcement posted in the paper's website,

We need to marshal our resources and fully invest in being the best digitally-focused news operation possible. That way we’ll continue to grow,” editor Cate Barron said in the same online post.

Daily circulation at The Patriot News has fallen 33 percent in the past decade, according to the paper's own numbers, with circulation now at 118,000.

Like the announcements for the Louisiana and Alabama properties, while the excuse may be digital, there were no new announcements concerning digital initiatives. "The world is changing, and we're excited about the transformation that will allow us to cover that evolution even better," Kirkpatrick said in his online letter to readers.
How the change will actually improve coverage is anybody's guess. Earlier this year, Sara Ganim and the staff of newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for its coverage of the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

The Patriot News has at least five apps I could find under its name: three mobile apps and one, for iPad, which mimics the paper's website. These four apps can be found under the seller name.

Another tablet app, The Patriot-News, is a stand alone replica edition built by Technavia.

Advance seems to like to make these announcements in pairs – maybe it diffuses the outrage.

Advance will deploy the same three-day-a-week strategy in Syracuse, New York at The Post-Standard. Once again two companies will be created, Syracuse Media Group for editorial, and Advance Central Services Syracuse for production and distribution.

“We are living through a digital revolution … This is an irreversible trend. We either adjust, or we perish," Stephen Rogers, editor and publisher of The Post-Standard, told employees this morning.

The Syracuse paper also follows the same model as The Patriot News when in comes to the new digital platforms - in this case, their Central New York Sports Magazine replica edition is also outsourced to Technavia.

Bonnier releases new universal app for TransWorld Motocross, replica edition is a missed opportunity

When I think of all the magazine companies that have released tablet (and mobile) editions into the Apple App Store over the past two years it is hard to identify the one publisher you would be the most disappointed with, but Bonnier has to be at the top of anyone's list. Bonnier helped give us Mag+, after all, but then all but abandoned the idea of natively designed tablet editions after its own tech group released such nice examples.

The splash page
The problem with the replica editions being released by Bonnier is not so much that they are hard to read and unimaginative, though they are, it is that they represent a missed opportunity.

Many of the Bonnier titles are in incredibly good positions to create amazing products for the tablet. I'm thinking, for instance, about Saveur. The international food magazine certainly must be loaded with images rejected for print due to space limitations that could work wonderfully on the iPad's retina display as a slideshow.

But Saveur's website is not filled with video, so the title is not one of those that could take advantage of the tablet's qualities in this regard. But TransWorld Motocross is.

This week Bonnier released a new universal app for its bikini-girls-next-to-motorcycles magazine. TransWorld Motocross is yet another title that has gone the replica route.

I suppose the upside of this replica edition approach is that the magazine is identical across platforms. What you see on one device, even if you need a magnifying glass, is what you see on another. Whether you are reading the magazine via this new universal app on your iPhone or iPad, or reading the digital edition through Zinio or Google Play, the issues look the same.

The downside is that all that video that currently resides on the magazine's website is useless here. More importantly, the digital edition sets up the magazine to appear old fashioned and behind the minute someone decides to launch a truly interactive magazine for the field.

It's becoming an old story, and frankly, I hate repeating it over and over.

Monday, August 27, 2012

CNN updates its iOS apps to add in a new section in time for the GOP convention in Tampa, U.S. Election Center

Today marks the start of the Republican convention in Tampa, though thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac, events have been moved to tomorrow. (As it stands now, the storm is predicted to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane and if the track remains the same would hit New Orleans dead on – though it is moving very slowly so predicting an exact location for landfall is still subject to change.)
Like many news outlets, CNN has released an app update to add an election section to their mobile and iPad apps.

CNN App for iPad, seen at right and in the video below, adds a U.S. Election Center that involves a news section and an election map section. The iPhone add does the same, only in its mobile format.

As these news apps gain more and more content, and add more sections, they start to become much more than merely an app version of the cable news outlet. If the editors aggregate and curate content in a certain manner, it is easy to see that the app version of a news brand could become quite a bit different than its television counterpart.

In the case of CNN, it might be possible to rejuvenate the news brand even as the network is moving more and more into reality TV. (It's possible, though it is doubtful that will happen here.)

For the sake of balance, I checked to see when the last app update was issued for the Fox News apps. Fox News for iPad was last updated on July 9, that update simply being bug fixes. The mobile app was updated back in June, also for bug fixes. The app description of both makes fun reading as the network insists on being a cliché at every opportunity.

Here is a very brief look the CNN iPad app as it appears today following the update:

WSJ launches WorldStream, a place to aggregate its hand-held, smartphone shot video content

What should a publisher do with all those poorly lit, shaky videos their reporters are now shooting. You certainly don't want them on your home page, right?

The WSJ today launched a new section of its website that it calls WorldStream. Powered by Tout, a San Francisco-based tech company, the web app will be curated by the WSJ's editorial video director Shawn Bender and
real-time video deputy Mark Scheffler, the paper said in its press release.
"Our video viewership has more than doubled in the past six months to over 20 million streams, and the creation of this video blog is a milestone in the expansion of video at the Journal," said the WSJ's Alan Murray, deputy managing editor and executive editor, online.

The paper is touting, if you will, its new feature, but the videos currently up online are pretty much what you would expect from reporters shooting with the smartphones. Any really good content, breaking news or other interesting material will, of course, make it onto the paper's home page. WorldStream looks like where the other material will end up if the four Herman Cain videos are any indication.

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.