Readers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade can now consume the news beyond the pages of a printed broadsheet or standard newspaper website. The pair of Block Communications Inc. (BCI)-owned papers recently introduced NewsSlide, an interactive platform designed specifically for Apple and Android tablets and mobile devices.
Both the Post-Gazette and Blade offer their own versions of the free app that is released everyday at 5 a.m.
“It’s not old print, TV or the internet—it’s a combination of all of those things,” said Allan Block, BCI chairman. “We see it as a powerful new medium for communication.”
NewsSlide allows readers to slide through visually attractive stories alongside carefully crafted photo galleries, videos, interactive graphics and illustrations. Users also have the ability to read content offline as well.
According to Block, inspiration for NewsSlide came from Montreal’s La Presse, which has found overwhelming success with its tablet edition. Based on the positive results, the French-language weekly decided to end its print edition last year and has gone digital only.
However, Block said NewsSlide isn’t intended to replace or act as a standalone to either paper’s other products. Instead, the platform will serve as the first step toward breaking out of the current business model in preparation for the future.
In addition to delivering the news, the platform provides advertisers with another impactful way of engaging with customers. Block said he views NewsSlide as an “e-commerce facilitation vehicle.”
“This has tremendous potential as an effective sales medium for an advertiser,” he said. “Once the people are sold by the ad, they can immediately be taken to an opportunity to buy a product, service or whatever it might be.”
While NewsSlide has received positive feedback from both readers and advertisers alike since its release, Block acknowledged that there is still plenty of room to grow.
“I won’t handicap what the odds are that it’s going to work or not but I can say we’re going to make sure this a really good effort by producing a great product and adjusting as we go” he said. “If we succeed here, it will show others in the industry what’s possible.”
For David Shribman, Post-Gazette executive editor and vice president, NewsSlide offers readers a distinctive experience that can’t be found in the print product.
“It’s the difference between a silent movie and a talkie, between black-and-white television and color, between Little League baseball and MLB, or, as we like to say in Pittsburgh, between the Browns and the Steelers,” he said. “In short, it is more alive, more colorful, more engaging.”