Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

Summary: There was some buzz over the weekend that a team over at News Corp., the parent company behind the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, is hard at work on an iPad-only "newspaper," called The Daily, set to launch sometime around Christmas.

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There was some buzz over the weekend that a team over at News Corp., the parent company behind the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, is hard at work on an iPad-only "newspaper," called The Daily, set to launch sometime around Christmas.

A digital newspaper is an interesting idea, but this one generated buzz when someone reported that Apple's Steve Jobs was such a fan that he's offered up his engineering team to work with News Corp. to make this a must-have, 21st Century news product. I looked and looked but couldn't find the source of Apple's involvement, other than a line in a WWD Media post that suggested that Steve Jobs is a fan of the idea. If Rupert Murdoch had a vision that involved building greater demand for one of your products, wouldn't you be a fan, too?

But I digress. Before I start injecting my two cents, here are some of the early details being floated around the blogosphere about The Daily.

  • The company is investing about $30 million in the project.
  • The content will mostly be original, with 100 journalists reportedly hired or being hired.
  • The company will charge a subscription of 99 cents per week for the quality journalism that The Daily will deliver.
  • It would work on all tablets, though the iPad is clearly a Murdoch favorite.

The WWD Media post described it this way:

In addition to journalists, there will be plenty of people producing videos. Also, there will be lots of design staff. The Daily will cover the nation. Writers have been told to find topics, establish beats and break stories. Johnson’s squad, currently setting up in the MySpace building, will attempt to bring a Page Six sensibility to Los Angeles. If the TMZ and Nikki Finke world is saturated, there will be intense coverage of cocktail parties, charity events, crime and politics. There will be no foreign bureaus, and there are no plans for a D.C. bureau at the moment, but it’s expected reporters from New York will take care of important political news. Daily reporters will certainly go on the campaign trail as the 2012 elections heat up.

We journalists are naturally a skeptical group. As someone who would like to see newspaper-style journalism on a digital platform, I am rooting for concept behind The Daily. But, based on what we know right now, I'd have to say that it doesn't look good for The Daily - even if it does receive a glowing endorsement (or engineering help) from Steve "Midas Touch" Jobs. Here's why:

  • The biggest problem is right there in its name, The Daily. That implies that it is a "daily" publication, not something that's published in real-time. Even if, as some reports have suggested, it gets a couple of updates during the day, the product will have to compete with the immediacy of today's news delivery on Web sites and mobile phone apps.
  • One of its biggest selling points will be the original content - but there's already original content all over the Internet. This product will reportedly offer quality journalism worthy of a behind-the-paywall subscription?
  • Speaking of the journalism, can a team of 100 reporters covering everything from Hollywood to Washington really dig in deep enough to produce the type of content worthy of that paid subscription? Just from the description above, these reporters will be in the mix of the Hollywood elite, will have some solid sources within police departments or other law enforcement agencies across the nation and will be privy to the who's-who inside the Beltway. All of that and original content everyday, huh? With 100 reporters?
  • How can you share it if it's behind the paywall? These days, if there's no social strategy - a Facebook or Twitter approach, at the very least - how do you broaden the distribution of the content? Certainly, if a reader comes across something fascinating while inside the iPad's news walls, he or she will want to share it with friends. But what if those friends don't have iPads? That could present a problem.

Overall, trying to bring a newspaper-quality product into the digital age is a great idea, but I don't see The Daily making it too far.

Also: Apple alliance with Murdoch raises troubling questions

Topics: CXO, Apple, iPad, Mobility, IT Employment

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21 comments
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  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    Of course, News Corp. already owns a publication like "The Daily", but he bought it. Its called the Wall Street Journal. And I prefer to read it on my iPad, rather than on paper.

    So News Corp. is trying to replicate that product for general interest, like "People" or "Time" versus "Fortune". Someone will succeed at this project. Given the fact that News Corp. already has a working example, they have a better chance than anyone else.
    prw3505
    • Multiplatform mobile publishing platform

      This project might have had better growth opportunities if it used a flexible e-commerce/subscription system, not only Apple's paywalled garden.

      The iPhone's OS has only penetrated 5% of the market in the US, as opposed to all web-enabled devices, which account for more that 40%.

      Mygazines, for example, is a flexible digital publishing software provider (http://www.mygazines.com/). They enable publishers to enhance, display and sell their content across multiples devices. The digital editions look and operate like apps but work on any browser (HTML5). They can even be wrapped and sold on the app stores. It's a universal publishing platform.
      justtheme
  • I'd say they have a solid chance

    News may be available for free and near-instantly on the web, but I still prefer to read a well laid-out article in a low-noise iPad app. Personally I'd go for a NYTimes app for 1.99 or 2.99 per week (starting whenever the user buys another week), but if Murdoch can provide a quality experience for 0.99 per week, I'm sure many people would jump in.
    Joesixgig
  • Price is too high

    The marginal cost of distribution is zero. My guess is that demand is pretty elastic. If cheap enough it is worth having several subscriptions for the odd article of value. At $50 to $100 per year, you can spend close to a grand before you know it, on stuff you do not read much.<br><br>Murdoch does not deserve my business in any event. Owning Fox is a deal breaker for me. News is news; propaganda is propaganda. My guess is that Murdoch is pi$$ed because he bought out a whole bunch of buggy whip manufacturers at the dawn of the automobile, and is desperately trying to salvage his investments.
    Economister
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    rupert obviously does'nt surf the net. the joys of surfing include not being led by the nose. we surfers graze, bite, munch - the worlds our stage.no source of online media is indispensable - why should we donate to rupert and steve's superannuation fund. if they think we're suckers - boy are they going to find out.
    p.s. the australian is still a losing proposition
    engeejay
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    Price is an issue... I would not pay $2 or $3 a week... $1 (99c), maybe... depends on what I get. No foreign bureaus? So an inward-looking US-centic publication... and knowing Murdoch, lots of sport, lots of gossip, lots of light fluff, very little hard news, and all of the latter very right wing... I've seen the things he calls Newspapers here in Australia, it is only good for wiping when you are low on toilet paper. The idea is good; a quality e-publication for a reasonable price which is not just an afterthought backported from a printed publication. But the key here is Quality and Value-for-Money.
    msandersen
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    I like a good newspaper and 4$ U.S a month is a excellent price for a newspaper.I would purchase one if it was from the NYTimes ,or The Washington Post. The word "The Daily" is so vague that Google can't even figure out what you are searching for .I will have to agree with the author of this blog (Waves@BTL) no share,no social ,noway.
    cybursoft
  • it was always nice to get a paper

    but the paper is a PITA so it sounds great. It really boils down to what kind of journalism they spawn, whether or not they can manage coupons and a help wanted/real estate section that is actually something. The coupons alone would pay for the cost of the subscription.
    sparkle farkle
    • Yep

      @sparkle farkle
      Coupons would work for national retail chains, but since this is a national publication a la USA Today, I doubt we'll see any local coupons or ads. Oddly enough, many people actually buy the newspaper for the ads, but we don't surf the internet for the ads.

      By way of freaky coincidence, your user name is part of my Dad's childhood nickname for me.
      matricellc
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    ?The company will charge a subscription of 99 cents per week for the quality journalism that The Daily will deliver.


    Quality journalism and Rupert- still laughing
    tonymcs@...
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    No local news = dealbreaker.
    Real World
  • Let it develop before dousing...

    At .99 per week for original content (not regurgitated blogs), I will definitely give it a shot. $4 for a month of 'quality' content delivered to my iPad is still less than what we spend on Starbucks coffee, a day. I will agree with one of your points that there needs to be some type of social sharing feature. If done right it can be a killer feature for digital paper, with of course Facebook and Twitter tie-ins. And haven't we seen how this paywall system worked with the WSJ over the years?
    dave95.
    • I don't go to Starcucks ;-) (nt)

      @dave95.

      nt
      Economister
      • I give up

        @Economister

        "You must enter a title" which I have tried a dozen times, to fix my typo. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
        Economister
      • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

        @Economister

        I don't go to Starcucks either (lol), but how could a caffeine addict avoid Starbucks with one on each corner? ;-)
        dave95.
    • facebook, twitter, dealbreakers as well

      @dave95.
      exclusivity, no rss, no feeds, no twitter or facebook. Make the news decent, regional/local, create a real newpaper ecosystem. That means if you want to facebook it, copy and paste. Otherwise how can you sustain a business model?? I'm no fan of murdoch, and I don't need another rss/feed aggregator, so it can really go either way.
      sparkle farkle
  • The effort sounds promising to me

    What I believe content providers should create, are essentially highly differentiated, super web sites. Basically reading experiences similar to the Wired iPad app, but where the content continually updates - rather than having discrete issues. This way, these news apps would enjoy most of the benefits of the web (e.g. immediate news updates), while providing highly differentiated reading experiences, worthy of being paid for. Many of these new apps would have counterpart web sites, which are there largely to drive users towards these high end reading experiences. These counterpart web sites would have a subset of the content, functionality, and user experiences of these news apps. These news apps would allow users to share content or jump to content in other high end apps via links, or failing that, their counterpart or ordinary web sites. Users would be able to archive and keep all the content they paid for (including videos which are optionally automatically download), and they would be able to consume past content in high fidelity, though will not be able to archive it unless they pay for it. I believe we could create a system analogous to paid and free TV, where people can always get free content on the web, but also enjoy premium content, worthy of being paid for from high end apps.
    P. Douglas
    • You just described my system; actually, a sub-set of it.

      What you just described, I already have "working" in the application which I've been working on. However, I'm trying to turn it into a lot more than a basic linker and aggregator of content. I want to link to discussions via the content and from "excerpts" of the content; I also want to directly link to the web-sites where news/info stories reside. I also want to categorize everything, with 3 other sub-levels of categories. I also want the articles to be "searchable" via the categories/topics/authors/publishers/dates and more. The presentation of the articles and the grouping of articles would be determined by the users, and article referral would be possible via users and publishers/authors. <br><br>It's a lot more complex than I can explain in a simple post, but, I don't think anything else out there can match my idea, not even Murdoch's properties.


      Oh, btw, my system would be truly "fair and balanced" since the content would be determined by the users and columnists/writers and not by the system. Content would be provided by people from all walks of life and from all political persuasions.
      adornoe
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    You have to buy it, its for the iPad!!! It gets Steve Jobs approval!!! I don't know why you wouldn't want it since it involves the two very things you go nuts for.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Murdoch's iPad newspaper: Nice try, but no chance

    I would absolutely pay for the content on ipad if I found it valuable. the problem is the good content is so hard to come by. I doubt simply throwing money at journalist will create good content.
    xchen