Pioneer News Group has teamed up with Microsoft and Posh Technologies to streamline the delivery of news and provide its readers with the power to publish stories.
The Seattle-based company’s latest initiative features two components: the distribution of Microsoft digital tablets to its subscribers, and the launch of a digital app through the ‘uReporter’ platform developed by Posh Technologies at several of its newspapers. Each tablet comes preloaded with the app built for receiving and sending the latest local news, though users also have the option of using their own devices to access the app as well.
According to Eric Johnston, chief operating officer of Pioneer News Group, the tablets are available as part of a subscription package. As of press time, the company had only recently begun selling devices at The Skagit Valley Herald in Mount Vernon, Wash. Eventually, the program is expected to be rolled out to all of the company’s markets.
“It’s important to note this is still early in the launch process but so far the response has been very positive,” Johnston said. “As for the apps, we have been promoting those in three markets—The Valley Herald, The Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Ore. and the Idaho Press Tribune in Nampa.”
When a reader downloads the uReport app from the Android, Apple or Microsoft stores, they are asked to submit their name, address and phone number in order to ensure that particular newspaper is aware of where the reader-reported news is coming from. Once that information is shared, users can choose from four small icons at the bottom of the app, depending on the type of submission they would like to send in—video, photo, audio or text. All entries are reviewed before being published.
“As with anything new, we know we have to build the habit and the awareness. We have started to see submissions from members of the community, and our newsrooms are engaged in working to increase the results,” Johnston said. “The app submission tools aren’t just for breaking news, but also for community service organizations, schools, sports teams and public service agencies who want a direct connection to our newsrooms.”
Ultimately what the company expects from its newspaper readers, Johnston says, is a demand for a digital news source on weekdays, and then a print source every Sunday.
“Like most media companies, more and more of our audience is engaging through a digital format—and a majority of those are using mobile devices. We wanted to not only provide content, but also serve as a catalyst for providing a mobility solution for our readers.”