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Dear Circa

I’ve been flooded with messages of support since we shut down. I asked permission to share these messages from the folks who sent them. I have been so amazed and humbled by how much people really had emotionally invested in Circa. It makes me feel really proud  of what we were able to build and the impact we have now created in the industry.

Here’s a sample of some of the letters I’ve received…


 

To Anthony and my distant friends at Circa News—

It is with great sadness that I started my morning off with the Farewell, from Circa headliner. I won’t torture you by yearning for the what-ifs and the if-onlys; still, I had to write you because I feel oddly close to the team that for so long now has brought me my daily news brief. Your idea was brilliant and you changed the market—there is no denying that. In today’s America we find ourselves at odds with the current event paradox. That is, technology, social movements, crowd-sourced collaboration and the freedom of press make accessing real, unbiased, ugly-truthed frontline news more possible than ever; yet, we amass a naive population that becomes disgruntled and misguided by ‘news’ organizations that are controlled by their advertisers so much so that what becomes the top story on every major news source is more often than not a ‘fluff’ to redirect attention from the real stories and make an aggregate audience fell all warm and fuzzy inside. But you already know this.

I’m not reaching out as part of a last-ditch effort to ignite your passions, sometimes the good fight leaves us hung out to dry. I just wanted to make sure that one loyal fan (and hopefully many more) communicated to you all that Circa News changed my life by allowing me to stay informed without getting overwhelmed. Its succinct story bites made room for more content and granted me the time to become better informed about so much more than was previously possible. I applaud your efforts, and I am truly sad to see you go. For the record, if I were not still a start-up adult paying too high of rent covering someone else’s mortgage, if I had more than 2 pennies to rub together, if I had money to fund a project—it would have gone to Circa. I wish each and every one of you the absolute best in your next ventures and hope to see more journalist institutions take a turn down the not-so-beaten path that you’ve been walking for almost 4 years now. Good luck and God bless each of the members on the Circa News team.

All the best,

Nicole Duffy
Circa reader and advocate since 2012
New Orleans, LA 


(Hey Anthony: I didn’t know if your customer contact email still worked.  So thought I’d send it to you guys here.)

Dear Matt and the Circa Team,

What a truly sad day for journalism and even worse for me.  How am I supposed to get my day going without you guys?!?

I’ve searched across all the lands (and a few oceans) for a way to read the news, have context, breadth in opinions/sources, and be updated on my topics of interest in one place.  Nobody else managed to do all of these things except YOU!!!

Is it too late to say “take my money!!?” I didn’t know you guys needed money.

Will you take subscriptions?  Because I would give it in the blink of an eye.  Oh, how my uncaffinated heart is filled with guilt and regret.

As I stare blankly with red soggy eyes at my lonely coffee machine, spitting out its last cup of I-can-deal serum to go with my favorite news app.  I salute you! (Quietly and totally alone in tee shirt, raccoon slippers, and underwear)

You’ve been amazing !!  You’ve done something meaningful for me.  You’ve been a part of my day every morning for years.

Thank You and please don’t give up on good journalism no matter where  you go!

I can’t wait to see what you guys do next !  Please keep me posted.

Sincerely,

Zin

unnamed

Ps.  Are you selling the app/company by any chance?


I’m not looking for talent. I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for providing readers with an app that brought the best news to mobile devices. I’ve been using Circa since its inception and couldn’t have been happier with it. Your dedication and professionalism brought us stories with accurate and relevant information about the stories we care about.

Circa has always been about brass tacks. Informative, to the point and, most of all, unbiased reporting. I had never even considered utilizing any other new outlet. You were the best. I have no doubt that the talented staff at Circa will find excellent opportunities.

I would like to, again, say thank you for all that you have brought us. I hope you are proud of what you built because it truly is something to marvel.An honest news service that never failed to deliver.

Thank you for what you have given us,

Sincerely,

Ron Bodamer (Loyal Circa reader)


You’ve broken every important news story to me over the past few years, first on twitter and then here. You do awesome work. Keep it up!


 

Before I (sadly) delete this app? …(for now)

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed and followed your app.
I am a graphic designer and learned of circa through school! In design school we spoke of UX and UI in regards to your app. You are a precedent and an inspiration and will not be forgotten. I hope to read circa again someday…(it was part of my daily routine).


Dear sir or madam,
Please overlook the format of this email, but not the content.
The moment I read the feature story of Circa’s farewell, my heart lost a beat.
I simply couldn’t believe this is happening but there is nothing I could do.
I’m a journalism student and I think Circa is the BEST news reading app I’ve ever used, the off-line reading, no ads, the scrolling design, divided sections, following stories…everything is just so perfectly done.
I deeply admire the journalist group that dedicated to Circa, I hope things can be better one day, and it will be better.

Looking forward for you to come back.
Best wishes.

Yours, Sameen


I have enjoyed your news organization more than any other and hope that you can salvage it. I am willing to pay a subscription price to continue reading.

If that is not possible, then many thanks for all the enjoyable and real reading and many good wishes to you and all your staff.  You will be missed!

Sent from Alice Treska


Hi Anthony,

I have been using Circa for more than a year now and have loved it from the first time I used it. The fact that Circa required no purchase and never shoved advertisements in my faced made It that much more enjoyable and professional. I read my wire daily, expanding my knowledge and general awareness of the modern world. Thank you so much for such a wonderful app, I, and I’m sure many others, found it to be an awesome experience.

Sincerely,
Nate


Anthony –

I must say I was extremely disheartened to find out that Circa is shutting down. Circa was one of my top sources for meaningful, concise and extremely relevant news. It is an unfortunate time that we are living in where investors would rather fund pointless social apps as compared to something with a potential to disrupt the way we think of “news”.
I am not sure where you are in the overall strategy of your product or whether what I am going to say will even make sense. However, I want to put my thoughts out there.
Ever since I took the course of Digital Transformation at Carnegie Mellon, I always wondered how print media will ever sustain with the disruption that technology has brought about. In one such of my reflections, I wondered if there was a way to enable these “archaic” organizations with a standardized platform, where they can focus on content creation, leaving someone else to worry about content delivery.
My thought was to build a platform with standardized interfaces that each news outlet, potentially across the globe, can leverage to post content. Users can subscribe to each on a need basis and Circa could still provide relevant analytics-driven recommendations. Cost-sharing models could be built in where each outlet gets a percentage when a user clicks through their content, with Circa getting a cut of each “transaction” so to speak.
The reason I share this with you (and maybe you can forward this on to the rest of the team) is because I think you have the resources and a platform that could easily expand to provide these capabilities. The other reason, maybe more importantly, is because I am a risk-averse person who might never see this through to fruition.
I hope you have a great future ahead, with Circa or otherwise.
Thank you,
Dinesh R Dixit

Dear Circa,

You were the BEST news company/app ever! You’re on my iPhone front page! I loved the “Follow Story” feature. There has to be a way to save Circa! This is the worst news. I was honored to be asked a few times to participate in your betas and feedback (I didn’t because I work for Apple and wasn’t sure if they still allowed that; rules change). Thank you for all the super hard work you put into Circa. I definitely always felt it was the highest class journalism and app out there. And, I was soooo excited when it came to Apple Watch! Circa, you will always be in my heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Liz Henning


Dear Mr. De Rosa,

Please accept my sincerest condolences on the loss of this project’s current incarnation. My friends and I greatly enjoyed Circa’s meticulous attention to detail, ergonomic design, and utmost impartiality. We hope that Circa will live on through its dedicated team, wherever you may go.

Yours truly, and thanks again,
Max Matiauda


Circa Team,
Thank you so much for everything. As a college kid always on the go, I fell in love with Circa from its launch date. The quick, bite sized and objective pieces of info were so appealing to me.
I will be for forever grateful to the writers, developers and entire team. I am very saddened to see you go!
Best of luck with everything you do and thank you again.
With all my love and gratitude,
Alex Kierlanczyk

I am sad to hear Circa will no longer be supported.  As an avid reader, Circa quickly became my first “go to” location for news.  I really enjoyed the content, the user experience of the app, and the way in which similar stories were suggested if I wanted to learn more.  And then I would tell my friends about it.Thank you for the team’s leadership in serving so many readers.  I can’t imagine how difficult the transition would be for the team.  Please know that the team delivered an outstanding user experience,

My best,
Naseem
Philadelphia, PA


Some selections from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/danielrruf/status/615178162654347264

https://twitter.com/OcGay/status/614937060625944577

 

 

 

Traditional media’s refusal to enter the link economy

Blogger ethics tend to be better than traditional journalism ethics when it comes to linking to sources. It’s actually far more likely you won’t find a single link in any articles in most mainstream news publications online. Sometimes they may even write out the source, but won’t link to it.

Here’s an example of where the New York Post cites TV Newser and Mediaite, but refuses to link to either. Both Newser and Mediaite are generous with links to their sources. Apparently the New York Post is a common offender. The Post has gone so far as to have allegedly admitted, by way of correspondence from one of their reporters, that they in fact have a policy to not credit blogs (or anyone else) if they can verify independently after they’ve been tipped off from the source they choose not to cite. Other parts of News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch’s empire, which includes the Post, may have the same policy as well.

Recently, NBC New York used a good deal of their reporting from a post written by NYC The Blog, which does excellent coverage of stories that often fall between the cracks, and does so with great detail. The author of the post originally did not bother to mention his source, then added the mention, but has yet to link to it.

Why are mainstream news outlets so averse to the link economy? Even here at Reuters, links are rarely seen, if ever, in the context of the articles we post. Felix Salmon recently referred to the Wall Street Journal as “the kid in class with his arm around his homework” in reference to their refusal to link. The New York Times is just as stingy with their links, relegating their modern link-friendly journalism to excellent places like The Lede.

The Lede is one of the few places I’ll return to multiple times a day, because it’s indicative of the way the world works now: real-time and part of a cooperative effort among outside sources, linking back and forth to one another, without regard for their internal or external affiliation.

Journalism today is a collaborative effort and the digital natives link to their sources as a matter of course. They understand the value of the link economy and it is rarely a one way street. Linking out doesn’t take traffic away from your site; instead, it makes your site more valuable as a comprehensive source of where information is flowing, it helps to show you’ve done your homework and are able to back it up.

This is not particularly new ground I’m covering here. Jeff Jarvis has written extensively on the link economy. Our own president of media, Chris Ahearn, believes in the link economy and Felix Salmon has weighed in on how the link economy benefits Reuters.

The issue is both technical and cultural. Many of these crusty old media behemoths are still embedded in the maw of very old editorial workflows that simply make it impossible to link out. Personally, I find this hard to believe, since if they’re publishing to the web, surely they have some way of linking within their articles. What I find more easy to believe, but not entirely a valid excuse, is the culture.

The culture of current “old media” newsrooms does not have the ethical inclination to link. They’re still provincial and afraid that once someone has clicked a link to a referring source, they’re gone forever. The digital natives practically have the link embedded into their DNA. Sure, there are some bloggers with loose ethics when it comes to citing their sources by way of a link, but few of them do it by way of policy and the ones who do so often are not the ones running a business behind it.

How long will it take for the old guard to make way for the link friendly digital natives? Considering how much the powers that be are relying on those natives to help them transform the media business into something that can feasibly exist in the current landscape, sooner than you think.

(Photo credit: by cogdogblog on Flickr)

Anonymous Source-aholics Anonymous

Two very popular people have been in the news lately: “Senior government official” and “Law enforcement source.”

When you, the reader or viewer, see or hear either of these mysterious figures cited, proceed with caution. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • CNN’s John King and the Associated Press report that the Boston Marathon bombing suspect had been arrested and taken into custody. King based his information on his unnamed “law enforcement source.” The AP never clarified where their false information came from, presumably parroting King or the same “law enforcement source.” They both wound up being wrong.
  • The New York Times, the New York Daily News, Buzzfeed, and once again CNN and the Associated Press falsely report that the Washington Navy Yard Shooter was armed with an AR-15. All of them cited anonymous “law enforcement sources” while Buzzfeed simply created a listicle claiming “The Navy Yard Shooter Used The Same Style Weapon As Sandy Hook and Aurora.” Buzzfeed never bothered to pull the post, instead opting to change the title to“Officials Now Say That The Navy Yard Shooter Did Not Use The Same Style Weapon As Sandy Hook And Aurora” and at the very end of the post add, “The FBI has stated that they officially have no information about Alexis having an AR-15 in his posession during the attacks, contrary to earlier military reports.” The New York Timeslater updated their article but haven’t bothered to inform readers that they removed the reference they had earlier with the false report that the gunman was armed with an AR-15.The New York Daily News even ran the false report of the AR-15 on their cover. The AP’s story online still falsely stated at the time of this article being published that the gunman was carrying an AR-15.
  • The New York Times became so addicted to the use of anonymous sources in their Syria and New York mayoral race reporting, their own Public Editor called them out on it. She cited one reader’s comment that stated: “As usual, The New York Times is more than glad to help the most powerful leaders in the world get their message out without having to worry about little things about accountability, counterarguments, other facts and various unknowns…”
  • The Associated Presss ran this photo which they stated was related to the Navy Yard shooting. They later retracted the photo after learning it was not related to the shooting. (Update: AP now says the photo was redacted because they couldn’t confirm if the photo was related to the shooting, Buzzfeed has details about how the photo has now been confirmed by AP, who plan to potentially release the photo)

Respect and trust must be earned and every mistake should chip away at the credibility of the organization running these reports. However, I wonder if the average reader or viewer actually remembers these mistakes or if they continue to trust again and again. Jon Stewart provided this depressing commentary:

“The lesson they take from this is, it doesn’t matter how much they betray our trust, we’ll keep coming back.”

I wish he was wrong but I suspect he’s right.

The disconnect between traditional media and UGC

The majority of newsworthy video out of Syria, Egypt and all over the world, shot by camera phone finds its way to YouTube by way of citizens. The first thought of the shooter is usually not: “I need to share this with a major TV news network” because they don’t care about traditional television news networks or more likely they’ve never heard of them.

They have, however, heard of the Internet and that’s where they decide to share it with the world.

Companies like Storyful understand this and realize that UGC doesn’t magically come to you and it’s unlikely to seek you out. In order to be the first to discover it, you need to know where to look and develop good systems for hunting it down. It’s very much a traditional journalism exercise but requires very non-traditional journalistic tools to find them.

What we do need more of is people who know how to hunt down UGC and better tools for finding it. We’re pretty much all set with tools on how to capture it and where to upload it. News organizations would like to set up ways for themselves to be the sole place people choose to present that content, but the many attempts to do this have had very poor results.

Think of one of the more recent, most newsworthy photos: a high resolution image of the Boston bomber that was uploaded to, you guessed it: Facebook.

I think it’s incredibly cool to give citizens new tools to get UGC in the hands of the media, just don’t expect them to do something other than what the majority of citizens already do: whip out their phone take a photo or video and share it to Facebook or Twitter.

The people who will win are the ones who can find it.

(Photo credit:  Digital Trends)