Do readers want pure news or news + information in one place?

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


One of the major topics the INMA Product Initiative had this year was looking beyond core news products. As I recently wrote, news can be a tough place, particularly when we are trying to build habit and encourage people to come back for more. We’re all news organisations. So what happens to information? 

Coming from a publishing background, I remember when newspapers were the go to for jobs, classifieds, obituaries, dating, and more. The Internet radically changed this landscape, as many of us will remember, when the bottom line shrank accordingly. Some of us still offer more than one of these, but most have splintered off into single use products. 

So are we now starting to see a shift (back?) towards news and information combined. 

So, is it time to bring it back? Will that bring us new readers? To some degree, that’s what The New York Times is doing by creating digital products such as cooking, wirecutter, Athletic, wordle/puzzles, and more. They are smart folk. Is that what consumers want?

Apparently not all consumers. Riske Betten and colleagues at Mediahuis NL discovered what their customers most wanted was for them to focus on the news. It is what they do best and customers seem to have specific apps for the things they really want. I was shocked to hear this. But then realised I had a weather app for weather and Citizen for local crime (which is both awful and compelling at the same time).

If we look at the App Store rankings for “news,” very few news organisations make it into the top 10. In fact, if you take a look at the rankings I pulled, only two brands most of us would consider “news” made it into the App Store charts. And one of those is specifically because of news events at time of writing.

Very few traditional news organisations make the top 10 apps on the Apple App Store rankings.
Very few traditional news organisations make the top 10 apps on the Apple App Store rankings.

I know a couple of organisations looking at “utilities” that keep people coming back. An excellent example of this is stock pickers. If someone takes the time to add their top stocks into a profile, that will likely become their main source of information. 

It seems there are two ends of the spectrum:

  • Companies such as The New York Times, actively focusing on becoming part of consumers’ lifestyle to grow as a business.
  • And, at the other end, companies doubling down at what they are good at as a “single purpose” app. 

Where do you stand on this? I would love to hear any thoughts you have. I am genuinely puzzled on how to figure out the best areas for focus: core products or new products for growth. 

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About Jodie Hopperton

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