ProPublica Launches Mobile Magazine

By Brandy Shaul Comment


Photo via NPR

Investigative website ProPublica is the latest in a growing group of companies that’s looking to mobile for new projects and growth. In the case of ProPublica, this means the launch of ProPublica The Magazine on Apple’s Newsstand for iOS devices.

ProPublica The Magazine will be released monthly as a free download, containing an assortment of articles about current topics. The first issue, “In the Crosshairs,” focuses on the topics of war and gun violence, and specifically, the Guatemalan civil war.

Speaking with Nieman Lab, ProPublica president Dick Tofel said the magazine’s launch on iOS devices was specifically targeted at gaining new readers.

“The real point is this puts us in the Newsstand, that pushes us to people, which we hope is a big plus,” Tofel said.

In theory, users browsing Newsstand for timely articles on local and worldwide events will find ProPublica The Magazine and help it grow through the free download.

Where digital excels over print is in timing. Tofel says this release of ProPublica The Magazine will allow the company to cover issues that are especially important to readers, without the gap between news and print that exists in traditional magazine formats.

From tech reporter Engadget to global news source Newsweek, companies are looking to mobile devices for new exposure and even sustainability. Engadget Distro, for instance, features a collection of the site’s best articles, while Newsweek switched from a weekly print format to a digital only one at the first of 2013.

The idea behind digital magazines is sound, and also basic. It’s much more convenient for readers to consume magazines in bulk on their smartphones and tablets than it is to carry around a stack of bulky magazines everywhere they go.

This growth of the digital print world is only expected to continue, according to Adobe, which works with publishers using its Digital Publishing Suite to create mobile editions of their content.

According to TapTimes, Adobe’s own presence in the digital content world has seen its publishing demands increase from 170,000 digital issues a week in May 2011 to 1.8 million by February of this year.

“It shows more and more that people are coming into the digital franchises of these publications, and consuming magazines and newspapers on smartphones and tablets,” said Lynly Schambers-Lenox, group product marketing manager for digital publishing at Adobe. “The momentum we’re seeing in digital publishing is that publishers are actually able to make money off these magazines. They are coming to realize that these [editions] have business value.”

Adobe went onto to determine the subscription ratios for digital content, which currently sits at 3:1. That is, for every one user that downloads a single issue of a digital magazine, for instance, three more are willing to subscribe.

As for ProPublica, the company looks to “evaluate” its project over the next 12 months in order to determine where to go next. You can download its first issue, “In the Crosshairs” on Apple Newsstand now.