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The New York Times is publishing articles on WhatsApp. For the first time Whatsapp users will be able to read their news from the platform. Though this is a first of its kind, it should not to surprising.
WhatsApp has more than 800 million monthly active users and using it as a publishing platform — like Facebook has done — should be no brainer.
The New York Times began the experiment with a story on Pope Francis. Its vatican correspondent, Jim Yardley, was travelling with the Pope in his Latin America trip. The Pope will visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.
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Understandably, publishing was different from the usual long-form articles found in The New York Times and came in short bits.
During the Pope’s trip the New York Times will publish a “handful of messages” each day. The messages have included quotes from Pope Francis, photographs from the journey and in the next coming days, they could be more elements to the reporting.
The short messages were also used as a way to redirect readers to the newspaper’s site with links to articles.
The way the WhatsApp account was set up was that users saved a contact number and needed to text “POPE” to the number to set it up and like that they could read within their WhatsApp. If one felt they wanted to opt out of the messages then they could text “UNSUBSCRIBE” to the same number.
Publishing is being turned on its head and this is great for publishers who are opened to the idea and are opening their content to a wider audience.
Facebook has already lead the new way of publishing with its Instant Articles. In its launch Facebook worked with nine launch partners like Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel, Bild and The New York Times.
It would be interesting to see how other publishers respond to this and how WhatsApp itself responds to it. Perhaps a WhatsApp update with a much more reader-friendly interface is upon us.