New York Times Realizes Big Tech News Aggregation Like Apple News Actually Bad

Illustration for article titled New York Times Realizes Big Tech News Aggregation Like Apple News Actually Bad
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty)

The New York Times has announced it is ending a partnership with Apple’s news aggregator app, with the company citing a greater need for a more direct relationship with readers.

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The paper reported Monday in its own coverage of the Gray Lady’s unceremonious breakup with Apple News that readers will no longer see Times articles within the app across their devices, though the Times cited its chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien as saying in an internal memo to staff that the paper would continue working with Apple on other projects, including on podcasts and apps. Apple told Gizmodo in a statement by email that the paper “only offered Apple News a few stories per day.”

“We are committed to providing the more than 125 million people who use Apple News with the most trusted information and will continue to do so through our collaboration with thousands of publishers, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and we will continue to add great new outlets for readers,” Apple said. “We are also committed to supporting quality journalism through the proven business models of advertising, subscriptions, and commerce.”

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As Apple indicated in its statement, the Times started pulling back on the number of articles it was serving to readers through the News app last year. Levien was quoted this week as saying that central to a healthy relationship between the Times and other platforms “is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules.” Levien added that the Apple News partnership “does not fit within these parameters.”

Where sending readers to its site is concerned, Apple News does not simply redirect users to the site where the original article is hosted, as with Google News. Instead, the entire piece is read through Apple’s app. That’s not something that’s going to help the Times, or any other publisher for that matter, develop the kind of strong relationships with readers that are imperative to their survival. That’s also to say nothing of the 30% slice of revenue Apple takes for in-app subscription sign-ups, as the Times noted. (Disclaimer: Gizmodo also appears in Apple News.)

Any time big tech positions itself as a kind of gatekeeper to readers, it always ends up going terribly wrong for the publishers themselves. And the Times will be just fine without another meddling Silicon Valley middle man attempting to take a cut of its earnings.

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DISCUSSION

It would not be a surprise to see the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal exit Apple’s service, as well, given their strong subscription model. At the end of the day, the apps out there like SmartNews, FlipBoard and the billions of others or just visiting Google News where they link the reader directly to the article is almost always a vastly better situation for the publisher.