Magazine article Editor & Publisher

You've Got a Lotta Verve

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

You've Got a Lotta Verve

Article excerpt

Not often quick to adapt to new modes of communication, the newspaper industry seems determined not to get caught flat-footed when it comes to mobile. One of the most interesting announcements to come out of the giant Washington, D.C., publishers/editors confab in April was the Associated Press' Mobile News Network. Thanks to the AP, the industry can now cohesively reach readers through smart phones.

"We had an opportunity as the Internet emerged to take a leadership position as an industry, but we were not able to do it because of the internal dynamics of companies," says Jon K. Rust, co-president of Rust Communications and AP board member. "This is a second chance."

This new initiative could be considered the mobile version of an earlier online flameout, the New Century Network (which arguably was abandoned too early).

Says Jane Seagrave, the AP's senior vice president for global product development: "The aim is to provide users with a single place to get local, national, and international news branded by the content provider themselves. The intent is to let newspapers promote their best content." Since the April announcement, 107 newspapers have joined the network -- and the AP has captured a wide variety, from the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle to the Billings (Mont.) Gazette and the Herald & Review in Decatur, Ill.

AP members that sign up with the digital cooperative -- the Mobile News Network is the first initiative -- can receive up to a 5% cut in their annual assessment, depending on the tier of service.

The mobile network works like this: Members feed the AP stories into a common database, hosted by Verve Wireless. The content is then organized and pushed out to consumers depending on their location, and, if they choose, brand preference.

A consumer can tailor the content delivery in several ways. The user can type in a ZIP code (or multiple ZIP codes), rely on a news button (like on the iPhone), or depend on "geo-syncing" possibilities through which the network tracks the device at all times and delivers content depending on the location of the person. Someone in, say, Billings, can get the latest goings-on from San Francisco, if they wish.

"We are creating a cooperative that lets members contribute their own branded stories unedited alongside AP edited stories," adds Seagrave. "The strength is that we bring this all together in a single point. …

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