Real World Application: How Innovative Apps are Driving News Overseas

International News Apps

We’ve all heard these words before: “There’s an app for that.”

You even may have said this a couple of times.

Today, developers can build applications around anything to manage your needs.

This definitely holds true for the publishing world, where news organizations constantly are challenged to provide content to readers hungry for breaking information and features.

Here are some apps that are making inroads into newsrooms around the globe, courtesy of the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet).

Pushing Efficient Mobile News in Eastern Europe

Working with media agencies and investigative reporting centers in eastern Europe and Eurasia, Christopher Guess developed an open source app in response to the high cost for small organizations to distribute content.

Guess, a Knight International Journalism Fellow of the International Center for Journalists, developed Push, which uses push notifications to place stories on users’ lock screens.

For publications that may not have new content every day, the app aims to easily pull readers in and highlight new stories.

Push originally was launched with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and now is regularly used by investigative reporting centers in Azerbaijan, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Moldova.

Guess says the ultimate goal of the Push mobile news service is “to finally tap a resource that’s been sorely missing since the smartphone was invented almost 10 years ago.”


Digitizing Newsrooms in India

Last year, when the Hindustan Times sought to produce groundbreaking digital content, Knight Fellow Nasr ul Hadi was instrumental in developing an official news apps team.

Through peer-to-peer training sessions known as “Digital Fridays,” Hadi and chief content officer Nic Dawes acquainted staff with tools and apps that have become vital for digital-led sourcing and production.

Tools include analytical platform Dataminr, which analyzes public tweets and data to deliver the earliest breaking news alerts, and, which provides audience insights into how readers respond to content. Sprout Social, which has become the outlet’s go-to social media platform, helps staff write and publish stories to the paper’s social media channels.

This digital revolution has created a “[newsroom] that’s not subject to daily deadlines,” says Hadi. “They’re able to contemplate more freely the stories they want to produce and be more deliberate about how they want to present them. They’re able to do much deeper dives than most traditional journalists.”

dataminr app

Individualized News in Switzerland

At first glance, the #12 app, developed by Swiss media company Tamedia, is similar to numerous apps that push news to readers in daily feeds.

What sets it apart? The way news is personally curated.

#12 is like a coffee shop that not only knows your favorite brew, but always is working on new flavors you may like.

Each day, an editorial team hand selects 12 articles from among Tamedia’s newspapers and magazines and prepares them for mobile reading.

A built-in rating system provides daily feedback to fine-tune article selection.

The result is what Michael Marti, Tamedia’s head of digital strategy, calls “an open dialogue on quality that can increase the readers’ satisfaction.”

#12 App

WhatsApp in Tanzania

Cost-effective WhatsApp arguably may be the most popular messaging app.

In the east African country of Tanzania, it’s become critical not only to news consumption, but also news production.

There, it’s almost a faux pas if you don’t have the app on your phone.

At little cost to users and wildly popular among groups, WhatsApp is the standard for sharing multimedia content. It’s also become a bulletin board for journalists.

As BBC reporter Tulanana Bohela explains to IJNet, “Any story we do almost invariably we would’ve heard of it first on WhatsApp in some group somewhere.”

WhatsApp Tanzania

Do you know of other noteworthy news apps and platforms used overseas? Give them a shout out in the comments section.

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Allison Richard writes features for PR Newswire’s media blog and is a supervisor with the media research department at Cision. A former international editor for Cision Blog, she loves languages and culture. She also likes yoga, useless trivia, painting and comedy, in no particular order.

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