Course Code was added to Apple News on Monday, only 24 hours after I’d submitted it for approval. The application process was very straightforward and only took about a half hour to complete. I’m excited to have the potential to be put in front of millions of people when Apple News goes live with iOS 9 in the fall. I’m really excited that I don’t have to put my content into someone else’s silo in order to gain this potential. Daniel Jalkut wrote about the difference between the approach Apple News is implementing in comparison to other “publishing platforms” after WWDC back in June:
I’m optimistic that Apple’s News app will be a strike against centralized services such as Medium, Twitter, and Facebook. A strike against signing over content to a 3rd party mediator for the sake of a greater chance at connecting to an audience. Apple may not be the world’s best technology company when it comes to either storing data or building a social network around it, but they are damned good at building a captive audience of delighted users who trust the company to provide access to a variety of 3rd party content.
People who used to write prolifically on long-form blogs are facing a similar conundrum with the rise of services such as Medium, which aim for and seem to deliver on the goal of connecting writers with larger audiences of people. Why keep writing for your own, completely owned and controlled site, if contributing your content to a centralized authority such as Medium will yield more feedback, gratitude, and criticism than publishing on your own site?
This was preceded by an excellent analogy between what Apple News can do for independent blogs and what iTunes does for podcasting:
Approximately 0% of the podcasts available to the massive installed base of Apple’s customers are actually hosted on Apple’s servers. Yet a huge number of podcast content providers thrive because of the distribution mechanism, the amplifier, that Apple provides by way of the Podcasts section of its iTunes store, and the Podcasts app on its iOS devices. If Apple decides on a whim to rank a particular podcast lower in the charts, or even to outright remove it from the iTunes directory? It’s definitely bad news for the show, but it’s not a death knell. The content lives on, access to it remains unfettered for those who seek it, and alternative clients for accessing the content are not “permitted,” because they don’t need to be. They are allowed to exist by default, because of the very nature of the web.
I know that everything I write isn’t news with a capital N but I do believe that the community of independent writers deserve a way to distribute their content in a way that respects their ownership of it. I spend my own money on Course Code for the tools to host it, write it and distribute it (via RSS). I don’t recoup those costs because I’m not at the point where advertisers that respect my readers would be willing to advertise to a readership of this size. That’s my choice and I prefer to control the whole stack. Apple News is providing an outlet that may change all of that by putting sites like mine in front of a much wider audience without having to sacrifice (most of) this control. It might not do a thing for writers like me but the potential is enough to have me really excited for the launch of Apple News on iOS 9.
Apple News has been removing some images in my posts and the only pattern I’ve found is that these images contain logos for other companies. I’m guessing this is in the guidelines for acceptable content but I haven’t found that specifically outlined anywhere yet. ↩