Some time in the dim and distant last year, when Apple announced Apple News, I remember applying for this blog to ‘join’ the service. Once Apple News actually launched here in the UK, with iOS 9.1 late last October, it appeared that this, like the great majority of other blogs, was not such a good fit alongside the glitzy commercial services which it featured. I sighed a little, and pressed on writing and posting articles here.
Now, having rolled out its big guns, Apple has decided to open its News content to all-comers. Like many other bloggers who must have completed the same applications last year, I have just been told that the Eclectic Light Company blog is part of News.
Of course it isn’t quite as simple as that. At present Apple provides three routes for publication: its web app, a plugin for WordPress (and a couple for other content management systems), or via RSS feed.
For single-handed and small publishers, posting articles twice – once in your own blogging system (I use MarsEdit), and again using Apple’s online publishing environment – looks to be a non-starter, unless you have a lot of time on your hands. You may be able to get the WordPress plugin to work on a blog which is not hosted by WordPress.com, but it currently doesn’t seem to be available for the many blogs which are hosted by WordPress itself.
So it looks like most blogs which publish to News will do so via their RSS newsfeeds, at least in the first instance. I am still trying to get my head round why this blog’s RSS feed works for everything else, but does not seem to feed Apple News.
However we do eventually publish to News, even taking feeds from a small proportion of the huge number now eligible, could dramatically change the nature of News. Currently the exclusive preserve of substantial commercial organisations feeding, well, news stories, there could be a large influx of often quite personal non-news items.
The effects of this transformation on what News users see and read could be substantial. For instance, current stories on matters dear to my heart (and mind) such as art history are almost all about galleries showing contemporary art, results from auctions, and other matters which have precious little to do with art or its history.
Throw in a few dozen blogs about art history and we could be reading all sorts of fascinating pieces about the history of Impressionism, Sargent’s portraits, even Rembrandt and Vermeer: not news by a long chalk, but much better reading and looking.
For the blogger, News has its attractions, notably Apple’s optional bundled advertising. I haven’t used News a great deal, but haven’t found its advertising intrusive in the way that most regular web ads are. I still don’t think that I would want to inflict them on this blog’s readers, even if they had high acceptability and offered worthwhile financial return. Their presence also starts to complicate some licences to use images and other material, by compromising the site’s non-commercial status.
I’d be very interested to see comments from other bloggers who have also suddenly found their blogs included in News, and from anyone else interested in – or repelled by – Apple’s aggregation. Please feel free to link to this, or to reblog it, to spread this news about News.