Circa iOS app delivers news collages

Circa's solution to news-reading fatigue is to assemble stories from digestible bits of content from various reputable news sources.

Dan Farber
2 min read

Circa isn't a solution in search of a problem. The startup began with a well-known problem -- consuming news on smartphones and within mobile or desktop apps can be frustrating. Your eyes and finger control can easily tire after reading several longer, and sometimes similar, news stories on a petite smartphone screen. Or, you may simply want a digested version of news stories that is easy to consume on mobile devices and that isn't Twitter, Flipboard or Breaking News.

Circa's solution to news-reading fatigue is to create a curated digest, a collage of news bits from reputable news sources. The bits are assembled into a kind of narrative, with a set of minimalist screens, or "flashcards," to capture the flow of a story. As new details emerge, a new flashcard is added to the story, and users can follow specific stories and receive updates. It's similar to the way that people can curate stories with tweets, videos, and other content via Storify.

Circa describes its news stories as collections of "details about a story: the facts, stats, quotes, pictures, maps, and more. These are the full stories, not summaries; summaries tend to compress stories and therefore lose details. Instead, each story on Circa has the same details you'd find in traditional articles, but broken down into individual chunks of information that are much easier to consume. It's the facts, without the fluff."

However, Circa is dependent on the quality of its human curation to deliver its promise of facts without fluff. Currently the news service has only a dozen editors curating the news content of the world. 

The Circa story, "Sec. Clinton Libya investigation: 'I'm responsible for the State Department.,'"  for example, traces the chronology and highlights of who knew what, when in the State Department and the White House regarding the fatal September 11 raid on the U.S. embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya. 

However, the Circa story doesn't have the latest turn on the story -- Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte issuing a statement Monday to the effect that the "buck stops" with President Obama. "If the president was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the president informed," they wrote.

 It will take some time to ramp up to cover more stories and topics. And arbitrating what are facts and what is fluff in assembling stories  will be an ongoing editorial challenge. If Circa is truly curating, it should prominently point its readers to articles that are worthy of a full, unadulterated reading.

The Circa app is available for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, and the company has plans for iPad and Android versions, as well as personalized recommendations.