When people are waiting in line, they turn to their phones, where they check Facebook, read Twitter and view Instagram photos. The big question for news publishers is why they don’t check out the news.
The reason might be the wrapper the news is delivered in. Publishers are still stuck, in 2013, getting the basics down: translating news stories from print to desktop to mobile. But attention spans are different when waiting in line. News, it seems, not only has to rethink its business models, it must also rethink what it delivers.
That’s why the experiments by mobile apps Circa and NowThisNews are so interesting. Both companies are focused on packaging content in smart, mobile-centric ways. Circa’s 13 editors scour the Web for content and break it down to those most basic elements of news — the who, what, when, where and why. That content makes it easy to read while waiting for the bus, as you can scroll through a story and take away what really matters. Circa also sends out push notifications to alert you of story updates. Think of it as an ongoing stream of news, which makes sense for the computer in your pocket. For example, this story on Russia’s proposed anti-gay legislation can only be shared via social networks through your phone or tablet.