Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Four disabled journalists on how news outlets can support staffers and audience members with disabilities
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
The Information tech top 10
Dec. 4, 2019, 12:36 p.m.
Mobile & Apps

$400 a year too steep for you? The Information will now sell mere mortals an app for $30 a year

The app is for “consumers who want to be plugged into the big tech stories without searching through Twitter or watered-down general news sites.”

Since The Information launched six years ago today, its primary target audience has been a high-end tech industry crowd that can afford its $400/year (and up) price tag. And it’s done so successfully: It can now count “tens of thousands” of subscribers across 84 countries, and its editorial staff has expanded to 25 (from 6 at launch).

But now, with a new mobile app, it’s aiming for a different, less-monied crowd: consumers. People who don’t necessarily need (or even want) to know every industry twist and turn but who do want to stay updated on major tech news.

Over the past six years, “tech has become an everything story,” Jessica Lessin, The Information’s founder and CEO, told me. “We hear from our friends from all corners of our lives who want to know things like: What is Alexa doing with my data? What does WeWork’s collapse mean for how I work in my business? We realized our team in the newsroom can help inform a much broader group of people about the most important tech stories.” (The “team in the newsroom” is a differentiator here; these small pieces are all written by Information staffers and feature a heavy dose of their analysis and context, even when they’re about stories that have been broken elsewhere.)

The Tech Top 10 app (available for iOS and Android now) is for “consumers who want to be plugged into the big tech stories without searching through Twitter or watered-down general news sites,” and it costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. (The Information’s next cheapest product is a $199/year “Young Professionals” plan for people under 30 — but they also offer an “All-Access” subscription guaranteed to get you into Information events and conference calls for $749.)

Tech Top 10 is, in essence, the same product as The Information’s Briefing, which is mostly consumed as a nightly email to subscribers that summarizes and analyzes a mix of the day’s tech stories — most of them pointing to other sites’ coverage of them, but also some original to The Information but not worth a full story. They’re “quick briefs that just tell you what’s important,” Lessin said.

The 10 stories in the app today are all Briefing pieces from the past 24 hours, and as a result they still peer through The Information’s editorial lens. For example, you get “Sequoia Raises Two More Massive Funds,” “SoftBank-Backed Katerra to Close Phoenix Factory,” “Postmates Exits Mexico City, Cuts Staff,” and “Bird, Lime Lose D.C. Scooter Permit Contest” as top stories — quite different from the editorial mix you’d get from TechCrunch, The Verge, Axios, Ars Technica, Wired, or the tech sections of major newspapers.

“Quick briefs” sounds newsletter-esque, but the app allows editors to update (and reorder) stories continuously rather than in a single daily edition, doing Tech Top 10 as an app made more sense; a tech events calendar is also included. Plus, apps for media companies are seemingly hot again, if two makes a trend: The Atlantic recently relaunched its app as an email newsletter–inspired product.

The Atlantic’s new app takes a cue from email newsletters ]

Tech Top 10 is free for existing Information subscribers, and it also includes links to all of the site’s full stories, which are still only accessible to full subscribers. (They open up in Safari instead of in-app.) But “what a hedge fund needs to know about tech is very different from what a consumer needs to know,” Lessin said. “I’m super excited to serve everyone from the hedge fund to the consumer.”

POSTED     Dec. 4, 2019, 12:36 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Mobile & Apps
Show tags
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Four disabled journalists on how news outlets can support staffers and audience members with disabilities
“The tools that journalists are given [should be] accessible — and designed with people like me in an advisory role.”
Press freedom means controlling the language of AI
Generative AI systems act like “stochastic parrots,” using statistical models to guess word orders and pixel placements. That’s incompatible with a free press that commands its own words.
What is news, anyway? Readers’ answers depend on how much they see people like themselves in the story
“The disconnect many young people feel may come from a lack of representation, which we show violates a fundamental aspect of how audiences — teens and adults — define what is news.”