Can gamification save The Daily?

Can gamification save The Daily?

Summary: The big media story of the week has been the launch of Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily, a new iPad app that is a cross between a daily newspaper, a glossy magazine and a Web site. While an impressive feat of design and journalism, The Daily has an uphill battle ahead for mindshare and is saddled with some serious issues (not the least of which is that few outside of the media/tech world have even heard of it).

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TOPICS: Apps, iOS
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The big media story of the week has been the launch of Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily, a new iPad app that is a cross between a daily newspaper, a glossy magazine and a Web site. While an impressive feat of design and journalism, The Daily has an uphill battle ahead for mindshare and is saddled with some serious issues (not the least of which is that few outside of the media/tech world have even heard of it).

The content is sequestered into a iOS app, with few outside links allowed, its navigation is overly complex and sometimes slow, including annoying load times, and it lacks the ability to reflect real-time news in the way a blog or news Web site can. Case in point, even though The Daily promises streaming updates during the day, the Thursday edition launched with a cover story on the recent spate of snowstorms in the US, rather than on the overnight developments in Egypt -- something even many traditional print newspapers managed to get onto their front pages Thursday morning.

For all its vaunted interactivity, The Daily feels oddly lifeless, almost like someone scanned a bunch of magazine pages and managed to add a few Flipbook-style photo galleries. To truly take the next step in the evolution of media, a more radically interactive approach is needed.

Could adding some gamification elements help The Daily feel more like a living, breathing interactive publication? It may seem like a stretch, but drawing customers in with more to do, collect, and share can only increase reader involvement with this fledgling publication. Here's a few handy suggestions on how Newscorp can make it happen.

Create a community that will incentivize reader participation Currently, readers can only share articles via Facebook/Twitter/e-mail, and leave semi-anonymous comments on an generic comment board. Let’s start by creating a persistent in-app identity for people that does more than allow you to write comments and pay the 99 cents/week (or $30 a year) to read The Daily.

Earn badges and awards for being well-informed Are readers sticking to the gossip pages and avoiding the hard news? Lure them over by awarding badges, real-life rewards or other forms of recognition to those who, for example, ready every page of an issue. This is where the user accounts mentioned previously come in handy.

Unlockables for loyal readers By the same token, there must be extra content -- video outtakes, unused photos, raw interview transcripts, that can be awarded as a bonus for anything from suggesting a story to a friend to volunteering to fill out a reader survey.

Quizzes and puzzles Well, they’ve got Sudoku, I’ll give them that. But why not create current events quizzes, or arts and entertainment ones, based on the actual content of that day’s issue? From there, you can create leaderboards or even eventually spin off the games section into its own app.

These are only the tip of the iceberg (or appberg, if you prefer). For news publications to evolve, they must stop aping the dead tree hard copy products they aim to replace and add more than a thin layer of interactivity to cover up old-school thinking. If you’ve got any different gamification ideas for The Daily, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Topics: Apps, iOS

Libe Goad

About Libe Goad

Texas native Libe Goad resides in New York City and has spent the past decade covering technology and video games for publications including Blender, PC Magazine, Bust, Seventeen and Sync.

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32 comments
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  • No, it cannot

    "The Daily feels oddly lifeless" and lacking in content. Three (3) whole news stories each day. Wow! Three. Too many to count, let alone read.
    davebarnes
  • Media by robot?

    "Demand Media uses algorithms to predict what media consumers will search for and then pays between $15 and $20 for items that will appear at the top of the Google search results."<br><a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/07/3131480.htm" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/07/3131480.htm</a>
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @ptorning
      As for your original question, regarding gamification, that won't be enough. The Daily has to have substance, not just gimmicks.
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @ptorning
      This was very insightful and I really enjoyed reading it.
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    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @ptorning
      Another great read. These articles and short informative pieces are always a delight to read and keep me coming back for more.
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  • Nice article

    I think the my favorite news app is USA today, I love reading it in bed or on the couch with my amazing ZooGue Case which is quite convenient since it's adjustable to any angle and very stable. If you have an iPad you want to check it out trust me http://www.ZooGue.com
    ipadmaster
  • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

    I disagree. I like it. It feels like an actual newspaper in a way that apps or websites don't. It's more sophisticated and serious-looking than sites with lots of garbage like the Huff Post. I don't think adding games would do anything to help it, it would just make it feel less like a newspaper.
    js272727
  • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

    Eh, it's only for the iPad?

    Well, that's their first mistake. Can't limit themselves to a single platform in today's multiplatform world.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @CobraA1

      Care to suggest what other platforms exist in this format? Today? Honeycomb was only demonstrated last week. I think it takes longer than four days to write an app. And the iPad has over 15 million users. I think you go to where the products are rather than trying to release a product for mythical devices.
      jgpmolloy
      • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

        @john@...

        Actually, at a dev conference on the 2nd, one of the speakers demonstrated a program they had ported to Honeycomb only 5 days earlier...
        hiraghm@...
      • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

        @john@... Oh, so you MUST publish a newspaper ONLY in a certain format? Since when? We can figure out how to make web pages work on a wide variety of platforms, but we can't figure out newspapers?

        Fail.
        CobraA1
      • or mythical users?

        @john@... could it be that the average iPad user is not interested in news as much as they are games and restaurant apps?
        Tim Cook
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @CobraA1 100% agree. You need spread out. People have so many different platforms, that you will be losing a lot of business by limiting. <a href="http://www.sanjosedentistdds.com">san jose dentist</a>
      lasvegasbacon
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @CobraA1 I have to agree with this point. Limiting yourself seems like a bad move on their part. I do like the layout of the site but still not sold.
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  • I don't understand bloggers

    If the Daily succeeds, it means that there is a proven business model for old print media and blogs to emulate and make money. This will in turn save journalists' jobs, and even expand opportunities for journalists and bloggers. And how do bloggers react? They just pooh-pooh the effort. If I was a blogger, I'd be rooting for the effort, and would even be claiming that this is the best invention since sliced bread.

    I'm not that surprised that many people are reacting negatively to the idea of paying for news content. I believe it is a painful but necessary path to re-establishing the value of news. I imagine a lot of people scoffed at first at the idea of paying for TV programming, with the advent of cable.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @P. Douglas It's less about about being a 'blogger' and more about being an industry participant/observer for many, many years. The Daily is going head-to-head against already top-notch free content and people who consume that content are already used to a certain level of immediacy and interactivity that Murdoch's new venture just doesn't have. When I tried to use The Daily this morning, it crashed three times as it was trying to update the top headlines. I believe Murdoch's hubris when he says the free internet 'will soon be over' will come back and bite him in the ass. Anyone in business will tell you that if you're going to sell a service, it must have some kind of value to its customers -- as of now, The Daily does not. - L. Goad
      elemgee
      • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

        @elemgee I agree with the murdoch view on this


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  • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

    Libe - these are great thoughts and I think 'The Daily' can really only benefit from adding gamification! At BigDoor we're a gamification platform that helps companies add game elements including points, levels, badges, checkins, sharing, virtual currencies and more to their site. When done right, game layers can increase user engagement, loyalty and monetization. (www.bigdoor.com).
    Carrie_P
  • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

    The suggested "improvements" are trendy for a high school newspaper - useless for adults. Focus on content not games. Traditional newspapers are dead because all they contain are the AP wire feeds I read 12 hours ago online. Fis that, and you have a useful product.
    BRD2
    • RE: Can gamification save The Daily?

      @BRD2

      That, and because they turned to spreading propaganda rather than reporting the news...
      hiraghm@...