I have been an avid reader of The Washington Post since my high school research project about the Watergate scandal. So to no surprise, when The Washington Post introduced a new social reading app on Facebook recently, I signed up right away. As an avid online news consumer, I am very excited about this project.
What does this app do?
The Washington Post social reader essentially takes the newspaper and puts it into the Facebook platform. Users can also read a selection of news from The Washington Post and its partners (Reuters, Slate, Foreign Affairs, etc.). This app emphasizes discovering the news of the day through friends. It can also help news agencies to determine what is popular, or even for agenda-setting purposes.
What do I like?
I only have to open Facebook in the morning to get my daily dose of news. Being a political science grad student, I appreciate not having to go to a slew of websites to get my news*. I also like how I can still recommend articles to my friends, to point out the ones I like or recommend reading.
I also like that The Washington Post has included some of their other partners. Outlets such as Slate and The A.V. Club publish a lot of articles I’ve enjoyed in the past, but are not generally places I look first for news and entertainment. So I do like that this app can bring out the material of these outlets.
What do I dislike?
I’m not necessarily a fan of the selection of articles offered. I don’t like the way that not all of The Post‘s content is on here. A lot of the articles seem to be more of the general articles and blog material. For example, I enjoy the “The Daily Fix” blog which is not present.
I also don’t like the assumption that my friends and I are necessarily interested in the same articles. I may have friends who are Indianapolis Colts fans, and I’m more a fan of the Cleveland Browns. If all of my friends are reading about Peyton Manning, I’m probably not as interested. Or even as a political science student, I may be more interested in Congressional legislation than my average friends on Facebook. These loop-holes should be expected, and I think could be accounted for.
I think this app is a good start, but could use some improvement. It would be nice to see this app learn about your interests and suggest articles that you may be interested in. For example, if the app would learn that I’m not reading articles about celebrity gossip, it would stop offering those articles to me. This would make the experience customizable, which is what its missing. I’ll still use it, but there is definitely some room for improvement.
*-but I still will do that, because I should be reading a variety of sources.