Commentary

Will MTV Magic Rub Off On Murdoch's IPad Newspaper?

With the forthcoming launch of News Corp.'s iPad-focused digital newspaper, CEO Rupert Murdoch has pledged to bring young people back to newspaper reading through the allure of the Apple tablet and short, snappy stories.

Greg Clayman

The hiring of Greg Clayman, MTV Networks head of digital distribution, to run the business side of the project signals Murdoch is turning to someone with firsthand experience in building digital entertainment properties aimed at the networks' 18-to-34 demographic. The thinking is probably that if MTV doesn't know how to entice America's Internet-addled youth to a next-generation newspaper, who does?

According to The Wall Street Journal's MediaMemo blog, which broke the news of Clayman's departure from MTV this week, News Corp. doesn't even like to use the word "newspaper" to describe its news project for the iPad. Is the company afraid the word itself might scare away 20somethings?

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Of course, the digital gig at MTV largely consists of repackaging TV shows and music videos for online and mobile consumption that have already proven popular with young viewers. Get bonus clips, sneak peeks and episode summaries for "The Jersey Shore"! Download the MTV "Jersey Shore Yourself" iPhone app! Not to pull in a sizable audience online with MTV's cable empire as a foundation would be difficult.

The News Corp. digital newspaper expected by year's end will likewise draw heavily on the resources of its existing properties, especially The New York Post, whose executive editor, Jesse Angelo, will oversee the editorial side. But attracting an audience for a standalone, start-up publication without any base of young fans to build on won't be so simple.

And then there's that subscription model News Corp. plans to carry over from its other media properties, which should be about as appealing to young readers as checking the obituaries.

If Clayman can pull this off, he'll have The New York Times and every other newspaper fighting over his services. If nothing else, Clayman has shown a genuine enthusiasm for the iPad. When asked during a panel at the Media Summit conference in March what everyone would be talking about a year hence, he volunteered, "How magical iPad apps are." It might take nothing less than magic to conjure young subscribers for Murdoch's forthcoming iPad tabloid.

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