A new way to news
If you’re anything like us, then the word “news” can be scary. With hours of boring dialogue, negativity that turns you off, anchors that look (and sound) like robots, and an ever-growing distrust of media the structure of mainstream broadcast journalism leaves little to no room for the true personalities of reporters to shine through, let alone any elements of the story that would interest the average viewer. So why are we pretending that watching the news is enjoyable? In today’s society, there is an ever-growing distrust of media and news information as a result of polarized political views and lack of verified content. Well… we said, “To hell with that!” and turned off the TV. Fed up with the hard rules of traditional news we decided to flip the script and explore a new way to news. One that deviates from the formalities and rigidness of mainstream media, that isn’t controlled by large corporations and their narratives. We’ve built a new medium that reimagines what it means to watch the news because news does not have to be boring nor does it have to be long and drawn out. Enter… News Now.
An industry disruptor of short 60-second news stories on an iOS app that matters to you on an easy-to-use, audience-centric iOS app that helps users of this generation stay informed and reconsider their relationship with the news.
Bored with the way traditional news was presented, three newsies, Ereina Plunkett, Briana Griffiths, and Mamie Johnson embarked on the path to reinvent the way we share tell the news. In August 2021, News Now was born.
The “Problem” with the news
As public distrust of the media grows, so has our indifference to watching the news altogether.
With various features including scrolling videos, profile verification, and a general feed users can browse through the content available on news New Now confidently, knowing that what they’re viewing is accurate and engaging.
As a platform that is founded on being different, News Now prides itself on transforming the way we share the news by encouraging verified content creators to think outside the box and present just the facts in “quick hits.”
Enter: News Now
Setting out on a journey to create an addicting news platform that delivers relevant news with short 60-second clips Plunkett, Griffiths, and Johnson knew that the app had to embrace the unconventional and reject old methods of news presentation. Prioritizing user experience, they asked themselves what they would want to see from their local news teams? After weeks of research and contemplation, the group discovered the answer was simple: what conventional storytelling often lacks is authenticity. Real people, real stories, real fun. Now, that’s News Now.
Developed as an industry disruptor above all, News Now serves as a hallmark staple for younger generations to become more educated and engaged in the world around them. We believe this generation is limitless in their creativity and their ability to push boundaries more than any generation before them. It was only fitting that they get a news app capable of the same spirit.
By embracing the fun and unconventional, News Now does not have to be boring.
“Because gone are the days where news, now is boring...”
To better understand the target demographic the team researched long and hard about how millennials and Gen Z consumed the news. Heavily influenced by over 100.5 million people who have cord-cut, the creators noticed a sharp decline in television — Signaling a need for a new news app that catered to a younger viewership with preferences that pointed to accessibility, and entertainment.
The “New News” Solution
Doing away with the rigid rules of traditional media, News Now welcomes a new generation of informed youth looking to be both entertained and educated. Founded on acceptance of the weird and unconventional, News Now encourages users to reject the outdated nature of traditional storytelling and adopt a more modern approach that embraces change. By incorporating music and dance into fast bites of meaningful stories, viewers are drawn into more addictive and engaging storytelling.
- Preference Selection enables users to hand-select news topics they are interested in tailoring the viewing experience.
- Discover Page allows for deeper exploration of trending stories and breaking news through keyword searches.
- Easy to Use Homepage which uses auto-scroll to glue users to their phone by cycling through the day’s top breaking news stories after 60 seconds.
- Source Verification ensures transparency to every content creator who posts to the app by initiating background checks and visibility listing out their qualifications to tell the news.
- Addicting Storytelling where NewsNow content creators will have full access to popular songs and subtitles to foster creative storytelling. Publishers have the freedom to be unconventional and express themselves.
Unlike generic news apps, News Now personalizes a viewer’s feed to meet the unique interests of the user. Users also have the option of switching to a generalized feed with access to all content uploaded to the platform. This ensures both sides of the story are told while allowing users to filter based on subject, interest, or medium.
While News Now places a heavy emphasis on creative storytelling, the app has various methods to ensure limiting misinformation and what has been colloquially called “fake news.’’ Content creators who want to publish on the app are required to identify themselves and undergo a careful evaluation and screening of credentials via our verification page. Once creators are verified, they can begin sharing their stories, receiving the recognizable blue checkmark by their account name to notify viewers of their verification status.
Give it to me straight
We believe news shouldn’t be taxing, which is why we encourage content creators to cut out the filler and jump straight to the facts. Users have 60 seconds or less to tell their stories and engage the viewer–-plain and simple.
Ok, but how do you use the app?
- When launching the app users are greeted with a News Now logo that later dissolves into a sign-up and log-in page.
2. A confirmation page verifies the user has been signed in successfully.
3. Users are launched into the general feed where the latest news live regardless of their preferences. Scrollable functionality allows users to seamlessly move between videos.
4. If users are curious where their news is coming from, they can click on a user’s profile and click on the News Now verified emblem to verify that the user has been verified by the News Now team.
5. If users are interested in becoming content creators themselves, they can navigate to the settings panel and go to the “News Now Reporter Application,” where there are follow-up prompts to submit their credentials.
Design Journey and Technologies Used
All good things have humble beginnings, and in our case, big dreams– dreams that got scaled back a time or two.
Ereina drew up a rough design and prototype of the project in Adobe XD, which allowed for an easy mockup to be made without coding.
From that prototype, Mamie and Ereina worked on refining the design of the app in the first rendition of the News Now Style Guide, which boasted a small color palette, conventional typography, and non-vectorized icons from TikTok.
However, feeling ambitious, the team expanded their vision in the design systems with Figma, a vector graphics editor and prototyping tool. This tool prompted a discussion on what was actually plausible for Briana to code.
Which prompted a discussion on what was *actually* plausible for Briana to code.
After a much-needed reality check, Briana coded a more realistic iteration of the app on XCode.
After weeks of hard work, tweaking, and even a few tears, News Now was finished boasting addicting new features.
Lessons learned through research, design, and development
- Major developments and pivots from 7005, 8016, and 7015.
The capstone project has been a humbling journey from start to finish. The initial design of the app boasted auto-scroll features, text-to-speak functions, and a downloaded font that we wanted to be at the forefront of the design, however when reality set in our team quickly realized some of those features were too advanced to code with the limited knowledge and resources we had. It was a tough decision but after consulting with our instructors (who were stumped themselves along with various NMIXperts, and countless resources online) we had to abandon a lot of our original design.
- Key takeaway(s) from the Style Guide and brand decisions.
The Style Guide was critical for us in forming the brand identity of what would eventually become News Now. It was later expanded in our design systems, but it allowed us the freedom to experiment with the idea of diverging from the rest and playing around with the font, color, and style.
Admittedly, we got a little too excited with some of our design choices and forgot Briana had to actually code the intricate vibrant designs we were implementing, so we had to scale back a lot of our design decisions.
- Key takeaway(s) from the Competitive Advantage Report
With 78.2 million people cutting their cords on cable news because of cost and programming, our team thought the market was ripe for a new news outlet that catered to a new generation of TikTok-addicted news junkies. We thought a news app that combined real fun real stories would be a hit. Inspired by other addictive, market-leading apps, our team knew that a new news medium with a sleek, easy-to-use delivery system and an algorithm that is as addicting as other market leaders, News Now had the potential to disrupt an entire industry and lay the foundation for future storytelling.
A vast majority of the coding of the app drew from Simon NG’s Mastering Swift UI. However, Briana also consulted with various NMIXperts and her professor to discuss how to implement video, text, and how to connect the app to the camera.
Stemming from Ereina’s own frustrations of working in broadcast news, News Now emerged from the question: “How can we make news more interesting?”
After some thought and references from her own addiction to TikTok, Ereina knew she wanted to combine the grit of hard news with the habit-forming urge to just keep scrolling (and scrolling and scrolling).
“What started out as a fleeting thought turned into a reality for me when my group agreed to tackle one of my biggest frustrations working in news. With long hours, little pay, and what feels like zero audience, there were days when I felt jaded about an industry that goes unrecognized. In the field, I often talk to people that admit to being cord-cutters, and it saddens me because there are journalists out there, like me, who truly do have a passion for good storytelling and just need a platform that is as passionate about the story as they are. The fact of the matter is, with growing distrust of the media and distaste for traditional news presentation, we as journalists have to meet the public where they are at. Gone are the days where you have to be in a suit and tie to tell a story. People care! You just have to peak their interests.”
“When I signed up to study Emerging Media, I was a wide-eyed junior who was eager to get her masters under her belt. Since then, little has changed, but I had no idea that my passion for my job would bleed over into my work as a graduate student. From months of learning proper UX strategies to understanding lines upon lines of code, Emerging Media has morphed me into a much more valuable asset than I would have anticipated. Today, my goal to become a “triple threat” in and out of the studio as a reporter has grown to include the skills I’ve gained in the program. I know as I transition over into the next phase of my life I will draw upon my skills in coding, understanding research, audience, and methodologies to become the journalist I’ve always dreamed of! While this journey hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, I know as I dive deeper into my career I will have a firmer grasp on the digital realm where content lives and what all goes on behind the scenes to make any project come to life.
“The decision to choose News Now as our primary Capstone project was a really easy one to make. Prior to hearing the idea, I personally had a bad habit of missing the news due to various factors from accessibility, lack of trust and time, and frankly, the connotation the news has often been negative and overwhelming. These are all problems we are setting out to correct as a team with the creation of News Now. I was inspired by the idea as soon as it was presented because due to its similarity to other popular apps like TikTok, the user experience would be an easy transition for users to make when using News Now. Similar to TikTok, the content will reflect the user’s preferences, and this was a game-changer for me. If people had the option of filtering out subject matter by preference, I truly believe the news would be consumed much more often and much more enjoyably. News Now has the power to change the future of news consumption, and this is the factor that gave it my vote as our Capstone project. The news are too often neglected and forgotten due to the fear it can incite. Still, the news are also an incredibly important aspect of our daily lives and can even serve as preparation for future societal norms. Thus, I knew News Nows was not only the most exciting Capstone project to choose, due to both its intimidating UX/UI requirements and strong strategy needed to bolster it, but in my opinion, News Now is also needed now more than ever, especially knowing that young people have a voice and opinions to share. We provide them with the information they need to make educated decisions in their lives, which makes me so excited for the future generations that will be more informed and up to date as a result of News Now.”
“Emerging Media has been a program that has pushed me to meet my full potential at UGA. While teaching me how to think outside of the box every day, I’ve been able to bring creativity to the classroom and to my peers. It was exactly the challenge I needed to find my focus and feel as though I was truly growing intellectually. As mentioned, I began this program my junior year of undergrad and each semester since, taking split-level classes between both the graduate and undergraduate level. Taking classes in both the graduate and undergraduate level was unsurprisingly very hard for me at times, but it truly strengthened my work ethic and has helped me grow by introducing me to peers and professors who encourage me to broaden my perspective and work towards the future I want to achieve. The classes I have taken through the Emerging Media Double Dawgs Program have been nothing short of incredible. Though some days are always bound to be more challenging than others, every day I feel like I am learning valuable lessons that I will carry with me well into my career. From learning the fundamentals of building website code to the strategy behind digital design, this program has been so informative and has greatly developed both my academic capacity and my professional skills. Ultimately, this program has provided me with the skills that help me stand out and feel capable of achieving hard yet amazing things. To conclude, in alignment with the values and focused concentration of the Emerging Media program, I am committed to using my creativity, life experiences, and unique voice to contribute through leadership and a constant vision for improvement to the Journalism and Mass Communication industry.”
“The second I heard the concept behind NewsNow, I knew I was on board. As someone who is always on her phone and likes being as up to date as possible, I felt like there was a disconnect between me and the traditional tv broadcasts. I noticed that the only time I ever watched the news was when I left campus and visited home. Many people today, specifically members of generation Z, are constantly on their phones and thereby typically receive their news directly from their phones, myself included. There are different platforms such as Twitter, Apple News, and Facebook that have news articles, but few that deliver content in a way that will keep people interested. It is for these reasons that NewsNow is such an important project to us. We want to deliver real stories in a fun and fast way for emerging generations. From the start, I’ve been so excited about this concept and the creation of this app. Many can benefit from an app like NewsNow where traditional, outdated delivery is a thing of the past. As Mamie noted, News Now is not just an app that is wanted but needed to keep people in the loop. It’s important to know what is going on whenever and wherever you are.”
“I pursued an Emerging Media Masters because I enjoy learning about technology and sought to improve my design and coding skills. In all honesty, my start to the program was rocky. I was so burnt out from undergrad. Having to start graduate school a few days after graduating was very overwhelming. After a few breakdowns and all-nighters, I eventually got my life together and found this program to be the perfect fit for me, as I was able to use the skills I had gained while earning my Advertising degree. This program helped me expand my thinking and undertake projects that were out of my comfort zone. Once upon a time, I was set on pursuing a Computer Science degree, but long story short, that didn’t work out. Because of that, I used to despise coding, but I have found it to be really enjoyable in having a hand in crafting different websites and apps during this program, especially our NewsNow capstone project. It is something I am most proud of! Despite it being the most complicated project I’ve ever undertaken and having tons of struggles with things we did not learn in class, it’s a project that I was able to work on with an awesome team that was new and fun. Overall, the NMI classes have taught me so many things, such as group collaboration, prototyping, testing, how to use different programs and software, etc., and they have pushed me to be creative and work through different emerging media solutions which will be helpful in my future professional endeavors.”
Dear Future Cohorts…
When choosing both your Capstone team and project, there are a few different long-term factors to take into consideration. One obvious aspect of the Emerging Media Capstone project is the breadth and depth of the deliverable requirements. The Capstone project is a hefty one, so consider the type of team you’d like to work with early. Based on your project choice (which we’ll get to later), you should consider partners who are not only best equipped to take on the project’s requirements with you, but also partners who have work ethics consistent with your own and seem equally as inspired about the project as you are. Paying attention to these characteristics will really help you choose the best team for your Capstone. In choosing your team, skillset is another consideration to keep in mind. The code is the backbone of the entire project and will either bring your vision to life or kill the entire project. Consider the complexity of the required code early and ensure that at least one team member is very comfortable coding at this level.
The next long-term consideration that can greatly improve your experience working on the Capstone project may seem like an obvious one: choose a project that you are genuinely interested in. Despite our team’s unilateral decision to choose News Now, coming to an agreement about a project that interests everyone can be incredibly difficult when working with multiple people, each likely having their own opinions and preferences on what the final project should be. In the long term, however, if you identify team members with similar interests and work ethics early, it will make a world of difference in how enjoyable the creation of your Capstone project will be. All things considered, this will be a project that you engage with repeatedly, so it should be something that inspires excitement and motivation for all involved.
From decisions on team members, methodology, and project subject matter, our overarching message is choose carefully. You never know; you might just accidentally change the world.