The concept of distributed content may have gotten a big boost Monday when Apple announced “News,” its free newsreader app allowing publishers to syndicate their stories directly onto an iPhone or iPad.
The Flipboard-like interface has some commentating that News signals the death of Flipboard, a popular magazine-format mobile app. I am not sure we’re going to see the death of Flipboard, but there is no question that the articles displayed on News will look as good if not better than the articles displayed on the publisher’s site.
The app will have several prominent content partners at launch, including The New York Times, Condé Nast, BuzzFeed, and ESPN. Here’s a complete list Apple displayed at its announcement.
Though large publishers get the billing in Apple’s announcement, there is every indication that smaller publishers, a la bloggers, will be able to have their content fed into News. Apple is already calling for publishers looking to be included to register their RSS feeds with News through an interface called News Publisher. I have already done so.
The bigger point in all of this is as Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton says, “individual news brands aren’t the primary point of contact with news any more.”
Think about it. In time, your law blog may well be consumed by more people in aggregators of news than at your blog itself. Your law blog may already be consumed on Feedly, Flipboard, social networks and in some legal networks a la the LexBlog Network.
Rather than fear the concept of distributed content, you ought to embrace it. There are hundreds of millions of Apple mobile devices on which people consume news and information. People will become accustomed to reading their aggregated news and information on these devices just like they did a newspaper. The exception here is that the publishers, writers and editors will not be working for one company.
You’ll still have your standalone blog sitting apart from your website. Your blog gives you stature and a home base from which people can subscribe and from which your content will be indexed on Google. Heck, you’ll need the stand alone blog for Apple’s News to see if you are a publisher of niche news and commentary—or an advertiser, as would be the case of a blog inside a law firm website.
Key for law bloggers will be publishing a good blog. Are you providing information of value? Are you sharing unique insight and commentary, as opposed to dry legal summaries. You’ll need to grow influence and niche readership for services such as Apple’s News to pick you up.
At the end of day, news aggregation by the big players is good news for the good legal bloggers. It validates the value of niche publishers, including lawyers, and provides yet another distribution channel.