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More news apps? No thanks!

a heaped piling of news app iconsAh, November. Crisp air. Approaching holidays. Mid-term elections. Fall is in full swing and I’m ready to get down to work after a long, lazy summer. I’ve been getting back into the habit of checking the news while I eat breakfast, so this morning I tried to look up local election results. What I found will finally turn me off reading news on mobile forever.

I’m not talking about seeing predictions of Washington killing Net Neutrality, squashing privacy or stripping us of everything else sacred online (although those things turn my stomach more than Tofurky). I’m talking about news organizations’ compulsory ad-walls each time I click on an article link.

When I search on a news item, I click a link that seems relevant but I’m greeted instead by a full-screen ad for the news’ organization’s mobile app. “Download our news app!” the ad begs. “Get the day’s news delivered to your phone!” I have to download the app or search out the itty-bitty “X” to close the pop-up. This isn’t easier than it sounds, especially on a mobile screen. Honestly, I’d rather watch a canned beets commercial.

News organizations are pushing their apps harder than Grandma hawks her special cream corn casserole (this time with peas!) at Thanksgiving. Each and every news article link is equipped with an ad-wall; each article’s footer is plastered with a download page. If you’re like me and you get your news from many different outlets, your phone’s storage would be jammed with news apps within days if you downloaded a quarter of the installs thrown at you. Forget the turkey coma; News app overload could have you flat in five minutes.

Like sports or weather? There are a million for apps those, too. Search the Apple App Store for “nbcsports” and it’ll cap it at 50 results. Weather? Please. I can stalk the temperature in my friend’s Australian town easier than I can find out if my neighbor won the state rep seat she was after (FYI: 68 degrees F today; She didn’t).

Every Murdoch, Disney, and Hearst app wants on our mobile devices, but the splintering of our phones’ memory and subsequent deterioration of our mental acuity aren’t what we’re after when we want to catch up on the day’s news. “NYTNow” may be a helpful aggregator but it’s still just one paper’s perspective. Confining ourselves to one brand of news is like sticking with the stuffing and skipping the rest. I would venture to guess most readers are like me and want to see the most popular or shared stories on a specific news item all in one place. I’m not going to open and close a pile of apps to gather information on one story of interest. That’s like bringing out one dinner roll at a time. A big basket will do just fine, thanks.

Until a decent mobile news aggregator app comes along, I’ll consume less news and rely more on RSS, search, and social sharing to catch up on headlines, and hopefully avoid the current news app coma that is so often hitting us all.


Photo credit: Newsapps, by Christine Cavalier

Here are some relevant articles I’ve curated for you around the Web today:

Blendle and unbundling news content

What’s a branded newsroom and how do you build one? 

The Business Model that “Saves” Journalism