By: Nu Yang
As more people turn to their phone for news, Circa is making mobile news more structured. Launched in October 2012, the free iPhone application breaks down news stories into their “atomic elements.”
“The facts, quotes, images,” explained Circa director of news David Cohn. “The idea is to thread the story together instead of writing a new article.” Circa’s editors tell the news in a personalized, intuitive way by presenting only the main facts with each update.
Cohn said when co-founder Ben Huh was following news about the Japanese tsunami in 2011, he frequently ran into articles that repeated the same information. Huh, along with chief executive officer and co-founder Matt Galligan, began rethinking news for the mobile phone, especially when it came to structure and delivery format.
“News now is generated on the Web or print and then trickles down to mobile,” Galligan said. “We’re changing how news is presented by making native news mobile first.”
With Circa, readers can follow stories, so that when the story is updated with new facts or images, a notification is sent. The reader can go directly to that latest update without rehashing through old material or reading repeated information.
A custom content management system allows editors to update stories as needed, an especially handy feature for covering breaking news. Cohn said Circa’s writing is original, but sources are cited at every point. Readers can also share stories on Facebook and Twitter. Cohn said they have the option of sharing the entire story or just a specific quote or image.
What distinguishes Circa from other news readers is that Circa creates its own content, rather than relying on an algorithm or staff members to curate the news. Another standout feature is the ability for readers to follow a story, which Cohn said is more manageable than the “information overload” of following hashtags on Twitter.
Down the line, Cohn said it may be possible for Circa to partner with newspaper publishers to create their own news feed. Galligan said he sees Circa making newspaper longform stories more accessible to readers. “We’re exploring new ways to tell stories,” he said. “(Newspapers) can either learn from our benefits or from our mistakes.”
With an Android app already in the works, Cohn said the company’s goal is to completely redesign the mobile news landscape. “We see ourselves as the CNN for mobile,” he said. “We’re not just putting a story on mobile and calling it a day or squeezing news onto a smaller screen. Everything can be rethought for the mobile experience.”
For more information, visit cir.ca.