Anthony De Rosa on Circa’s Plans to Reinvent the Digital News Article

'We are human editors'


Age 37

New gig Editor in chief, mobile news startup Circa

Old gig Social media editor, Reuters

In one sentence, describe what you’ll be doing at Circa.

Lead an editorial team and ensure that they’re accurate and timely.

What attracted you to the company?

I think the biggest thing is that they’re trying to reinvent the article. The whole idea of the traditional article being this inverted pyramid format has kind of been outdated. The Web allows you to do so much more, and we really haven’t taken advantage of it, which is insane considering that we’ve been delivering news on the Web for a pretty long time now.

Why should people read Circa as opposed to other news apps out there?

We are human editors who are writing new storylines to specifically create a quick way for you to understand different things that are going on in the news. It’s not an algorithm. It’s not built on any kind of automated system. This is delivered by human editors, and I think that’s really the main difference between what we do and what a lot of these other apps that are out there are doing.

What’s one thing you’re looking to change or improve at Circa?

I want to add value to what we’re reporting. And there seems to be this misconception that we’re aggregating. The truth of the matter is that we’re writing storylines that are new articles based on a lot of different sources of information that we’re absorbing. We’re not doing anything different than what other reporters are doing. We’re just trying to put it into a format that’s really ideal for a mobile device. And we can improve on that just by doing a good job at doing our own second-hand verification of what we’re seeing. And in some cases I’d like us to even try to do our own original reporting.

Would you like to see Circa break news?

Yeah, of course.

How did you get into social media and recognize it as a tool for news?

To be honest, when I used Twitter in the beginning, I didn’t know what to do with it, and I thought it was stupid. In fact, I was on Tumblr before I was on Twitter, and I think I made a lot of disparaging comments about Twitter early on. The Green [Movement] was probably the moment where I really realized what the value of Twitter was. And I understood that there were going to be events like that where no one other than Twitter was going to have first-hand reports before anywhere else would have them. It’s a direct line to people who are experiencing things right now. And after that, I just kind of became obsessed with having the access to those people through Twitter.

What’s one of your biggest pet peeves that you see on social media?

People telling each other how to do social media as if there’s like a rule book. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. I think some people are better at it than others, but I don’t want to go around preaching how they should be doing it.

You’ve tweeted more than 100,000 times. How much caffeine does it take to keep that up?

(Laughs). A lot. I usually have like two or three cups a day.

Are you ever not on Twitter?

I try to not be on Twitter on weekends, and I try to scale back, if I can, at night. But sometimes there’s just news or big events or stories thatI have no choice but to cover. It’s not really a nine-to-five job.