Newspapers Web Services

Newspapers without papers: API interfaces to the news

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.

Newspapers Web Development

Newsreader for newspapers (minus papers)

Just wondering if people would be more willing to pay for news if news organizations would allow to use some sort of API or at least made usable newsreader. User Interface that would allow people to browse news via keyboard, set up filters to show right kind of content and avoid all unrelated advertising (content-based related ads could be OK in free version; paid subscription would remove ads).

Many would pay for the news if it just would be easier to get quality news content with full text articles and quality photos, right to the well designed UI that would make it easy for people to theme it to their preferences. Cost of printing would be avoided and overall cost of distributing content could be dramatically lower compared to traditional printing process.

Started to think after reading Kyle Neath’s article What’s your focus? that talks about importance of clearly defined websites that make it easy for people to focus on the most important thing they want to do. In case of newspapers, people buy them to read news.

What if people could actually get same content but with power to customize the look and feel of it? While allowing unrestricted access to all news content in full text form might not be the best way for all companies, at least they should try to invent something new instead of just complaining about how many people don’t want to read newspapers anymore.

I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be any room for printed media, just that it would be reasonable to offer good digital alternative that could be used, instead of just read.