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The Message and the Medium: Mobile News, Circa and Anthony De Rosa

Posted on: May 29th, 2013 by Beth Monaghan | No Comments

Circa Technology Section Screen Shot

Does the medium shape the message? At Circa, it seems that it does, and I tend to agree. Circa, a very cool mobile news app, just hired Anthony De Rosa, the social media editor for Reuters. He is one of my most relied-upon social media news sources (you should follow him @AntDeRosa), so I was sad to hear that he was leaving Reuters, but happy to discover that he will remain in the business of the news. Fast Company’s Co.Labs has the details about his move.

At InkHouse, we’ve been thinking about how mobile will shape the news business since we had the pleasure of debuting the Fluent Mobile “mobile newspaper” back in 2009 (Fluent Mobile laid the foundation for what is today’s wildly successful Fiksu, a mobile app marketing platform).

Circa is taking a unique approach to mobile news by making a story available in one place, but broken down to its core components and facts to make it easier to read and share – more mobile. According to its home page Circa offers, “News without the fluff, filler, or commentary: Circa’s editors gather top stories and break them down to their essential points — facts, quotes, photos, and more, formatted specifically for the phone.”

I also like Circa’s approach to citations. The nature of the news is changing with many more inputs than ever before. Crowdsourcing is not the right word, but there are certainly many more voices of various influence involved in the making of today’s news. Circa compared this evolution to that from the encyclopedia to Wikipedia and quoted David Weinberger who said that, “transparency is the new objectivity.” Circa’s editorial policy echoes this evolution: “Every fact, quote, statistic, image or event in every story gets a citation.”

The Circa model is somewhat of a mirror for how PR has evolved to adjust to social inputs to news, and now how it’s evolving to mobile formats. What does this approach mean for PR? The changes are already underway.

At a time when PR is involved in so much content creation, transparency and citations are critical. They confer credibility to the content, and make it more social. Circa editors cite all sorts of documents, not just news releases. This too has become an important change in PR as we think far beyond the press release. Circa notes that its editors cite “news articles, Tweets (especially for quotes), scanned documents or reports, primary source legislative documents, first-person blog posts and more. We don’t believe everything we read online.”

What good PR people already know is this: PR content must be authentic, transparent, sharp and short. It must engage quickly and be easy to link to, cite and share. I am excited to see what happens with Circa. If you want to check it out you can download it for iPhone here.

Side note: If you want to read more about the medium shaping the message, check out Christopher Mimspiece about the new blogging platform, Ghost, for Quartz. Ghost is also founded upon the premise that the medium shapes the content. Mims wrote that Ghost founder John O’Nolan’s goal is “to change how writers think, by changing the basic nature of how they write for the web.” According to the Quartz piece, the goal of Ghost will “create a system that makes it easy for writers to express thoughts without interrupting themselves to construct the elaborate, multi-media layouts that characterize articles on the web.” I’ll be watching closely!

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