November 16, 2015 Last Updated 7:18 am

Newspapers activate alternative home page designs, live blogs in reaction to news from Paris

Mag+ rebrands its digital publishing platform Designd, updates its previewer app, as it unveils new mobile app solution called Semble

The US news media is beginning to unwind its coverage of the Paris attacks, with many cable TV outlets returning to programming as usual on Monday after a weekend of end to end coverage.

NYT-front-11-21-15The New York Times, which has a flexible enough home page to adapt when the news requires it, has reduced its first headline to two columns from the five column headlines it ran in the first two days after the attacks.

Some newspaper editors learned once again just how limiting their website designs actually are, locked into designs that they feel work under most circumstances, don’t give them the ability to adapt their home page look if news requires it.

Following the news through legacy newspaper websites, one sees that the live blog is now a standard feature among leading newspapers. The Guardian, which was among the first to begin the live blog feature, quickly began a home page blog feature as soon as the first details of the attack were known. The NYT did, as well.

But there were live blogs available on the website of Le Monde and Libération. But while readers of the NYT were soon informed that they could access stories on the attack without fear of bumping up against its paywall, Le Monde’s paywall looks to be more strict, with readers forced to delete their cookies if they wanted to continue.

For newspaper editors, the lessons learned this weekend will again have to start the conversation with the web design teams: are we flexible enough with our design, can be adjust our metered paywalls when needed, can we create new features such as live blogs if needed? Many of the leading papers have made tremendous advances with their recent redesigns, though newspaper chains such as Gannett and Tribune Publishing appear far behind other media companies.

Now what? That is the question many will be asking following the attacks in Paris? Will newspapers once again begin to beat the drums of war as they did following 9/11, or will there be a more reasoned debate inside the pages and websites of daily newspapers? The biggest question for US editors will be if they can explain the complex situation in Syria and Iraq to their readers, helping them understand all the players, conflicting interests.

On the campaign trail we know what to expect from Republican candidates as each reaches to be the most hawkish (ironic then, isn’t it, that the real hawk, Lindsay Graham, is not even on the stage at this point).

The Democrats, on the other hand, have already had a debate since the attack, though it is doubtful many spent their Saturday watching it.

Mag+ has updated its preview app and renamed it Mag+ Designd Reviewer (no, that’s not a typo).

Desingd-icon-175What the platform, founded by Bonnier, is doing its separating and rebranding its original digital publishing platform from a new product that is in pre-launch.

Design is the original InDesign plug-in solution used to create digital editions, while a new product, called Semble, is the company’s new drop-and-drag solution for creating mobile apps.

(As part of the new product Mag+ has also launched a new previewer app into the Apple App Store, also named Semble.)

There will be more on Semble later today.

The New York Times has issued the first update for its NYT VR app (see original TNM post on the app here). Actually, the NYT issued two updates, both released on Friday.

The first addresses a crash bug, the second addresses an issue where the video did not load.

The develops also took the occasion to give users tips on how to properly use the app with Google Cardboard:

What’s New in Version 1.2
We fixed an issue where videos were not loading in the app.Below are some tips for the best Cardboard viewing experience. If you have more tips to share or need help, please email

  • Make sure the center of the screen is aligned with the center of the viewer. It may be necessary to adjust your phone once you’re looking through the viewer to get the alignment just right.
  • If the video looks blurry, your phone may be tilted in the viewer. Trying adjusting your phone so it’s aligned flat against the Cardboard. If you have a case on your phone, it may help to remove it.
  • If you’re experiencing double vision and realigning your phone doesn’t resolve it, you may need to turn off the zoom setting on your device. To do this on an iPhone 6, go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom > View > Standard. To do this on an iPhone 5, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom.

Future plc released a series of updates for its digital edition apps including its new publication Professional Photography.

The update fiddles with the app’s library so that the issues show up in the proper order. The update also allows readers to buy entire collections of back issues at a discounted price.

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