Read it here first

18 September 2015

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HOW do you receive your news? Radio, television, and newspapers all play a part in disseminating information about what is going on in the world. But the news environment is changing, and now, increasingly, people are receiving their news online over the internet.

Organisations such as the BBC say that it is no longer important to have an interesting front page with links to all their stories. People are more likely to go to a news site as a result of a link to a specific story that has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, or other social-media sites, and then jump out again; so it is the links on individual stories that are more important for keeping traffic than links on front pages.

But how do the people sharing the links in the first place know where to find them? The answer is in apps. Most news organisations have news apps to help people navigate their changing content.

Some, such as the Church Times, base their app on their print publication; especially, as in the case of the Church Times, when the app is not so much a stand-alone piece of software but an add-on to Apple’s Newsstand app. This gives subscribers the chance to read the stories that appear in the paper with a clear, stand-alone appearance. And they can select the stories they wish to read from a list of headlines rather than having to download the entire newspaper.

The Church Times app is more user-friendly than the website’s downloadable page-turner edition of the paper; but, because it uses Apple’s Newsstand platform, it is available only to iPhone and iPad users for the present. And because it is currently based on the print edition, the app does not feature any of the breaking news stories that the Church Times publishes on its website in between editions.

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An example of an app with breaking stories is Sky News. Its app features a constantly changing list of stories, and you receive a notification on your screen telling you the latest headline. The downside of the app is that clicking the link takes you to the list of stories, and, if you’re reading your notification some time after it was sent, the story may well have been pushed off the list by later stories. The Sky News app is free on Android or iOS.

For news with an international flavour, the app from the Associated Press is available on Android and iOS; and has the advantage that clicking the notifications takes you to an extended paragraph about the story with an option to open the full story.

Most news apps require a live internet connection to download the stories as you read, which can make it a bind if you want to read the news while you are commuting on a bus, train, or Tube without a connection. Apps in the Newsstand, such as the Church Times, are downloadable to your device while you have an internet connection, and can be read offline.

The same is true of some stand-alone apps, such as the Daily Mail and Metro, which will download content when you are in a WiFi area for you to read at leisure.

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