TAKEAWAY: It is a subject where there are not many easy, well researched answers: should a news iPad app be updated constantly, once a day, more often? Our work with the development of five news apps to date have taught us a few valuable lessons which we share in our weekend post of TheMarioBlog.
A year after the arrival of the iPad, a platform that has changed the way we present and receive news and information, one question usually lingers, becoming the big gorilla in the room during workshops to create news apps: should the app be updated all the time? Is the expectation of the user that this app will have the very latest news? Or, if, as research indicates, the iPad is used more heavily during the prime time evening hours, treated more like a book than a traditional newspaper, should the material that appears in the app be more analytical and feature in nature?
I tend to view the issue with an open mind, willing to be convinced that constant updates are necessary, but, the iPad news apps that we have collaborated with work more closely with the concept of what I refer to as editioning.
What is editioning?
It is exactly what the name implies: a news organization decides to publish an iPad (tablet) edition with either one or more updates in 24 hours, but not with the urgency and minute by minute updating that is rightfully done with online editions.
I believe that more and more mobile and online editions are going to be the platforms for the 24/7 cycle of updated news; the printed newspaper and the iPad will be companions that go more into the analysis of the events.
Of course, the printed newspaper has lost its time advantage a long time ago, circa 1991 when the Internet made its grand entrane. The iPad CAN have the time advantage, and, as I write this, my own iPad beeps with news of violent tornadoes in Arkansas and Oklahoma. But when I get those prompts on my iPad screen, I know that I can go online to read more about it.
So, returning to editioning: I believe in perhaps two or three distinct editions a day, especially created for the iPad.
In Colombia, El Tiempo’s app, which was the first I was involved with in the early stages of workshops to create it, has three editions a day: morning (newsy, close kin to what is in the morning printed edition), midday (follow ups and more pictorial/multimedia), evening (analysis, longer reads). At the time we were conducting discussions at El Tiempo, we had no clue what the preferences for use of iPads would be. Now we know that we got it right, that most iPad users turn to their tablet in the evening, kick off their shoes and read and look at images and videos.
In Dubai, where the Gulf News Tablet is in a soft launch mode at the moment, our workshops led to the creation of two daily editions: Morning Coffee and Going Home, each with distinct priorities and storytelling strategies.
In Kerala, the Malayala Manorama app is updated once a day.
In each case, however, there is the essential tablet editor——a dedicated journalist who selects content, decides storytelling techniques to be used, and gives each edition its own flair.
This week my work takes me to Vienna, where our client WirtschaftBlatt, the financial daily, already successful with its iPad app (one of the first in Austria) will now contemplate a midday (lunch) edition.
Nothing is new
I remember almost a year ago, when I keynoted a WoodWing tour event in London, two or three young digital era journalists came to me after my presentation, with smiles all over, telling me that “this concept of editioning is so cool, and different.“
I smiled back and reminded them that, indeed, there is nothing (well, almost, nothing) new under the sun: when I began my journalism career as an intern the summer of 1967 with The Miami News, that newspaper already had several editions a day, as did its sister newspaper The Miami Herald, which updated every two hours during the morning, including an international edition.
My recommendations based on our experience with news apps creation so far:
1. Do what is best for your particular publication. In fact, perhaps you are in a situation where constant updates on the tablet edition are recommended.
2. Editioning is best when there is a designated editor who understands the philosophy and purpose of each edition.
3. Always make sure that users of the iPad edition know how to go to your online edition.
4. Perhaps you implement a pop up window, with vertical movement, where headlines of the top 10 stories updated online, appear there, as does El Pais, of Madrid.
WoodWing’s Xperience seminar May 24-25
I am honored to be one of three keynote speakers at the upcoming WoodWing Xperience seminar in Amsterdam May 24-25
I did a previous keynote for a WoodWing Tour function in London in 2010.
For those interested in attending, here is more information:
May 24-25, 2011, Amsterdam, Netherlands
WoodWing launches Open Format for Interactive Publications
The launch of ofip is an initiative of WoodWing Software aimed at developing a standardized data format for interactive publications, such as digital magazines, newspapers, books and brochures.
For more information: