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Innovation

New site indexes The Daily. Why pay for a subscription?

A site that indexes the stories in News Corp.'s new iPad app, called The Daily, eliminates the need for anyone to pay The Daily's $1 per week subscription.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

The Daily, the iPad-only news app developed by News Corp., is only a day old and already, there's a site that will force News Corp. to field one more question: For $1 per week, are users paying for the content or the iPad app experience?

If the answer to that question is "the content," then users should just save their money. A Los Angeles-based programmer and journalist spent about 20 minutes putting together "The Daily: Indexed," a site that indexes each of the stories that appears in The Daily for easy reading over a Web browser.

No, the home page of the "The Daily: Indexed" isn't pretty - it looks like a table of contents - but it is effective. And it provides access to previous editions, as well. Apparently, you apparently do not get access to archived articles from the iPad app.

However, iPad app subscribers can share articles from the app with Facebook friends and over Twitter so that their friends - even the non-subscribers of The Daily - can read them, too.  That, of course, means that those articles are published on the Web somewhere, even though it may not be immediately obvious from the iPad app. And so, this programmer-journalist named Andy Baio did to The Daily exactly what Google did to the entire Internet: He indexed it.

In an interview with the New York Times, Baio said he hoped that The Daily wouldn't ask him to take down his site. He said:

I’m very curious about their reaction. In my opinion, it should be completely legitimate. They are public articles on the Web and they are intended to be linked to.

I'm inclined to agree with him. He's not re-posting the articles. He's not posting images of the app. He's simply posting a list of clickable headlines that take people to pages hosted at thedaily.com - pages that anyone with a web browser could access if they knew how to find the URL.

At yesterday's news conference and launch, News Corp. execs were asked whether the content would be available for free online. Rupert Murdoch reportedly answered with a flat-out "No."

I won't criticize News Corp. for its efforts around The Daily and its attempt to generate some more revenue out of its news products or to reinvent how people consume news. It's a noble effort - but it's time to put down the champagne from the kickoff party yesterday and start sending people back to the drawing board.

Who could have known that it would only take about 20 minutes for someone out there to find a way to crack the secret code and take the steam out of the big News Corp. plan?

Also: Screenshots: The Daily launch

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