"It's time to experiment": Newspaper launches first iPad-exclusive edition in Brazil (Interview)

As tablets and e-readers become a growing trend for news consumers, the newspaper O Globo launched the first digital edition in Brazil designed for iPad, “O Globo a mais,” on Jan. 30. The initiative is a sign of the news industry’s interest in developing new platforms for its content.

The editor responsible for Brazil’s first iPad newspaper, Adriana Barsotti, spoke with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas about the first week of the edition’s launch. According to Barsotti, the key to exploring the potential of new media is syngery and the best time to do it is now, while the newspaper crisis is still above the equator.

Knight CenterO Globo already has its content available online. What prompted the creation of an iPad-exclusive product?

Adriana Barsotti: The incredible growth in the tablet market. Since the tablet was launched, the newspaper industry has seen it as a savior. We’re still a long way away from the kind of crises newspapers in the United States and Europe are facing now, so this is a good time to experiment without the sales pressure. Circulation is up for popular newspapers in the last several years and the rest are holding their own in Brazil. O Globo is not in trouble so we have the luxury of developing a niche product. The company wants to invest since it sees tablets as a good option in the future. Soon, there will be an Android version available.


KC: How many readers have downloaded O Globo a mais?

AB: I still don’t have those numbers but I think that the number will be very high this first month since we’re offering it for free. After the second month, it will be part of our digital package and will be sold on the Apple App Store.

KC: What do readers think so far?

AB: From the e-mails we’ve received from readers so far, they seem happy with it. The challenge is to find the balance between what’s “hot” and what’s more in depth. The hotter the news is, the fewer resources we can add, like video, audio, etc.

KC: Is this the first time O Globo has developed a new product around the special features available with tablets and mobile phones?

AB: We’ve already had temporary applications for elections; the World Cup; the Olympics. Ever since the iPhone reached Brazil, we’ve been rushing to provide O Globo products for it. But these products always featured content from Globo.com. In the past, the content was just adapted to these platforms. This time, we’re designing content specifically for a new platform.

KC: Do you feel that new media's potential is still underutilized by traditional print-based organizations?

AB: I think the challenge lies in finding a balance between exploring the potential of these new platforms without dedicating an entire team to every little thing. This kind of synergy is fundamental. Since the beginning, the focus has been on producing material for O Globo a mais first, and content for the print edition second. But it’s a two-way street. Everyone’s helping to produce new content. One of the initial fears was that the newsroom would not embrace the project, but they did. The tablet, beyond the advantages of real-time updates, allows for a much more visually pleasing experience, bringing together the best of the Internet and print.

Read the full interview in Portuguese here.