Articles

Newspapers without papers: API interfaces to the news

In Newspapers, Web Services on June 22, 2010 by Daniel Schildt

At the last post I wondered if it would be good idea that newspapers would offer full text archives of their content via API’s or something similar. Apparently I didn’t remember the fact that The New York Times and The Guardian have released their news contents via different APIs that make it possible to do variety of different things with them. Some people have already done data visualizations based on The Guardian’s data and there’s huge potential in how information can be analyzed if person just has enough skills for it. These two news providers aren’t even the only as there are 26 other news API providers in list at website of ProgrammableWeb.

Recently Tomi Ahonen wrote about how people are moving from traditional newspapers to mobile news delivered via MMS messages. It’s more about content distribution than providing interface to search and analyze various kinds of content but the main idea is still visible: people have been moving away from paper. It’s not that there wouldn’t room for magazines printed to paper; there might still be time for newspapers on papers for some time. Paper is still cheaper than iPads for quite bit of time but if digital readers become as cheap as some moderately expensive books then it will become less and less ideal to run paper via traditional printing processes.

Paid news aren’t going away but there is surely need for more options on how people can get the news they want, easily as possible. While digital distribution isn’t exactly even close to “free” (there can be quite bit of costs for larger news providers), some might save large amounts of money per magazine as traditional printing costs go away. Wholeheartedly hoping that people trained as journalists still continue what they do, even when their distribution channels will change from paper to various different electronic devices.

Future of news is in mobile reading, not in traditional computer screens. It’s not to say that there wouldn’t be huge need for information via large screens (it’s often more effective way of reading things) but more about the availability of mobile devices out there. While there are problems in data transfer of 3/4G networks, it should be noted that much of content distribution can be done with just MMS messages. It might not be even close to same interactivity but at least there are larger amount of capable devices/users compared to those who use Internet via mobile browsers.

Things are moving fast and hopefully people find new ways of communicating more effectively, whether on large screen or on other electronic devices.

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