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Will Daily Be Digital Dinosaur Or Dynamo?

What to make of the exclusively-iPad-based "newspaper" that Rupert Murdoch is planning to debut early next year will all manner of News Corp. fare?

"With an investment of $30 million and a staff of around 100, The Daily will be the first of a kind -- a 'newspaper' with rich media and photography built especially for the iPad," writes David Carr at The New York Times, which is no doubt watching this story develop with great anticipation and anxiety.

"Based on who is getting hired for this project, it looks like the Daily will be heavy on video, interactive graphics, and rich photos," writes TechCrunch.

As Agence France-Presse notes: "The Daily brings together three of Murdoch's passions -- newspapers, the iPad and finding a way to charge readers for content online in an era of shrinking newspaper circulation and eroding print advertising revenue."

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Indeed, publishers love apps because readers don't reflexively expect them to be free like Web-based content. "With The Daily, the News Corporation can enter the digital newsstand business in earnest with a new product that was never free on the Web and in a format for which payments are easily made," writes Carr.

Still, asks Salon co-founder and blogger Scott Rosenberg: "How likely is it that any significant number of people will pay $50 a year (or a bit less, assuming a subscription discount) for what is likely to be an above-average but hardly essential or irreplaceable periodical? It's not as if iPad users have no existing sources of online news, innovative delivery mechanisms for information, or a shortage of stuff to read."

Insisting "There's something all wrong with this," Michael Wolff tells Fortune that Murdoch doesn't get technology; he doesn't get America; and he sure as heck doesn't get Apple. "Murdoch gets special promotion for this new thing -- Jobs' endorsement? iPad button? But what does Jobs get?"

Furthermore, despite its innovative delivery, Carr believes The Daily will still be a dinosaur at heart. "It will be produced into the evening, and then a button will be pushed and it will be 'printed' for the next morning. There will be updates -- the number of which is still under discussion -- but not at the velocity or with the urgency of a news Web site." And no inbound links!

"Why do people love getting their news online?" asks Rosenberg. "It's timely, it's convenient, it's fast -- all that matters ... But even more important than that, online news is connected: it's news that you can respond to, link to, share with friends. It is part of a back-and-forth that you are also a part of."

Read the whole story at The New York Times et al. »

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