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Circa news app being resurrected with focus on original reporting and video

Circa news app being resurrected with focus on original reporting and video


Can video and original reporting make Circa 2.0 viable?

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Circa is getting a second chance. The Sinclair Broadcast Group, typically more associated with TV stations than mobile software, has acquired the news app and said it plans to relaunch Circa sometime in the spring. Circa was founded in 2011 with the goal of making it easier for users to follow breaking news stories as they developed, or get a just-the-facts summary of the day's events. Back in June, the app's developers conceded that Circa was unsustainable and would be put on "indefinite hiatus" — many figured it would be permanently shut down.

But Sinclair purchased Circa's intellectual property and technology for $800,000, according to The Wall Street Journal, and has brought on a former Washington Times executive to lead Circa through its relaunch and beyond. The company plans to hire around 70 journalists who will focus on original reporting, something the original app largely lacked, and Circa 2.0 will also integrate video from 172 Sinclair-owned local television stations to broaden its feature set. Sinclair is giving Circa an operating budget of $10 million for its first year, and there's already some criticism coming from Circa's original team as to how viable this strategy is.

Nevertheless, the company seems confident it's making a wise move in reviving Circa — and one that it hopes will transform into a long-term play. "We expect it to be as significant as Vice and Vox and BuzzFeed," Rob Weisbord, COO of the company's digital arm, told the Journal. "They all went to broadcasting companies for investments. They want to expand into broadcasting. They started out as pure-play (digital) and they are now entering into our field. We are going the other way."