Earlier this week, Circa released an app that could potentially overhaul breaking news and how it’s consumed in a digital era.
Frustrated with the way daily news articles appear on our phones, often poorly reformatted from content intended for web browsing, Circa’s founders aimed to adapt news content specifically for mobile consumption. Furthermore, they wanted re-frame not just the way traditional news is delivered to mobile audiences, but also the way news is actually produced, by blowing up the news story and presenting it as component pieces.
Here’s how it works. Circa’s editorial team collects each story’s “atomic units”– its key facts, quotes and media elements – stringing them together into original stories, or “briefs.” Each brief has the same details you would find in a traditional article, but is broken down into individual chunks of information that are easier to consume. The app interface works like a stack of flash cards, presenting each detail on a separate “card.” So, for a story that might take several scrolls to get through in its original form, Circa has separated each point for you to swipe through the entire story in less than a minute.
Circa gives you the ability to “follow” certain stories, allowing you to be automatically notified with any news updates. And, of course, what is a mobile app without social media integration these days anyway? Circa also lets you share articles and points with friends via Twitter and Facebook.
This app is revolutionary in that it reflects the process of news as its evolved today, drawn from multiple reports and a variety of sources, aggregated over time. In PR, resourceful news consumption is a necessity, and for those of us with short attention spans and an on-the-go lifestyle, it doesn’t get much better than this.
But, it’s hard to say what implications a service like this might have for the future of journalism. Yes, Circa’s content is original. But, its writers are essentially piggybacking off the work of professional reporters on the ground, without directly referencing sources. Journalists surely aren’t too happy with this. And, considering the endless number of publications and news sources to aggregate from, how will this app be able to narrow such vast amounts of information into a limited number of factual points? Take political news, for example. There’s simply too much opinion and a lack of clear sources.
With that in mind, do you see aggregation as beneficial or harmful to the way we consume news?