Sometimes in the process of news gathering or carrying out coverage, a defining moment happens to a news agency or blog. Welcome to our new Beyond Bylines series: Five questions about the big stories you’re covering.
With the debut of Zig, entrepreneur Joshua James wants to change the way people engage with and consume the news.
He, with co-founders Adam Platzner and John Tornow, launched the compelling new media platform earlier this month. Already, it’s garnering big attention.
Former Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, music producer Quincy Jones, and Live Nation are just some of the high-profile players backing the venture.
For Carter, this is his first public project since leaving his post at Vanity Fair. In a recent news release, Carter says he wants to help the team how he can and believes the app “will find a wide and dedicated audience.”
That’s likely because Zig promises to shake up the current ecosystem — one that has delivered mixed results for publishers in the past.
The app drives traffic direct to news sites and solves yet another “problem that publishers have had since the dawn of the Internet,” says James, in the same release. “Their content is built around an ad model that doesn’t make for an ideal user experience. At Zig we’ve completely altered the way content is consumed.”
For readers, that’s a win.
Zig prioritizes and remixes the millions of available articles, photos, videos, and other content into a user-centric experience.
By connecting with the individual user’s social media accounts, the technology can read the individual’s historical engagement to tailor streams to their specific interests — essentially working to eliminate digital clutter.
Images and video are prioritized over words, allowing for an overall more efficient news experience as users consume, share, and react to content.
James, Zig’s co-founder and CEO, answered a few questions for us on his latest endeavor. Here’s a peek at the brand new Zig platform, in his words.
1. Tell us about your new app, Zig. How is it different than other news apps out there?
Zig, a mobile media technology platform that collects millions of pieces of content, including articles, photos, videos and more, from publishers around the world and remixes it, blends it, and feeds it back to users in an immersive hyper consumption stream. Links, headlines, text and fluff are removed and all content is initially distilled into a photo or video.
Zig is really an attempt to alter the current publishing model, which we think makes for a poor user experience as it is built around ad clicks and page views, not usability. So what Zig does is actually collect the content after the click and it brings it forward into a content stream. Users don’t click, they simply consume the content and then continue on.
2. You have some heavy-hitter investors supporting your endeavor. When was the moment you realized this could be a big thing?
I think we realized pretty early on that the idea was powerful and potentially transformative, the question was whether we could pull it off tech-wise. Once we realized that we could we started getting very excited. As we began meeting with investors and saw their excitement, we knew we were onto something great.
3. What can publishers expect from the app? How much of a consideration were they in your development of Zig?
We’ve had discussions with many media organizations at the highest level, and they’re extremely excited about our product because of the volume of content people can consume and the ability to share their content across social media. One particular feature they love is the patent pending Zig React. Users can actually take a photo reaction of themselves, slap it onto the content and share it across their networks. The end result for the publishers is people sharing their articles and every post leads back to them.
4. It’s been a tough year for media, particularly with audience trust. How can readers trust that what’s published is honest and not fake news?
Zig only draws content from named and reputable sources.
5. What’s the best advice you have for innovative newsrooms and entrepreneurs looking to embark on a change-making idea?
It’s extremely helpful to be unreasonably stubborn! It’s also important we think to have an idea that is rooted in solving a problem that exists in the market.
Does your newsroom or blog have a great story to tell? Email us at email@example.com and tell us why we should ask you five questions next.
Anna Jasinski is senior manager of audience relations at PR Newswire and a former magazine journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @annamjasinski.