25 June 2015

The Verge: “Why Circa failed”

  • Circa was cold and rational at a time when journalism was becoming more entertaining and emotional. A just-the-facts-ma’am approach to the news can be valuable in describing major breaking-news events. But those events are rare in nature, and the news organizations that are growing the fastest — BuzzFeed, Vice — excel at making their audience feel something every day. Circa took pride in being flavorless, and it showed in the product.
  • Circa was a generalist in a news market that favors expertise. One reason general-interest newspapers have suffered is because for most major subjects, there are a variety of online publications covering it more thoroughly and with greater authority. (When the Supreme Court next hands down a big decision, will you visit your local newspaper's website to read the AP story, or will you visit SCOTUSBlog?) Like newspapers, Circa shunned analysis — forcing its users to seek it elsewhere when they found a story intriguing. And so an app designed to save people time actually created more work for them.
Casey Newton
Circa News re-imagined

I personally don’t agree with the first point, I prefer news reports to be impartial and that usually comes with detachment and ‘coldness’. But the truth is, in today’s world, entertainment sells. And the major problem with Circa – as with most apps and startups today – is that it had no business model, no source of revenues. I’ve worried about that ever since the app launched, back in 2012, when the CEO explained its purpose as a way for people to educate themselves for 5 minutes a day: you can’t realistically build an engaging service and loyalty from this kind of casual interactions. And without loyal users monetization will be next to impossible.

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