Tablet Journalism: Can Rupert Murdoch’s iPad Adventure Save the News Business?

(Page 3 of 3)

a link to a Web-based version of the article. Bizarrely, however, this Web content is not reachable from The Daily’s own website. Article headlines are indexed by the search engines, and screen shots of the articles can be reached via search result links from Google, Bing, et al.—but The Daily has deliberately avoided creating a navigation structure that would allow non-iPad users to browse, copy, or comment on the articles.* Everything is designed to keep you inside the app, where News Corp knows you’re paying for the content (or soon will be—everything at The Daily is free for the first two weeks, courtesy of Verizon). As Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg puts it, “most of the apparatus of two-way communication that every serious digital publishing venture of the past 15 years has taken as a given is missing from The Daily.”

Exactly. In fact, The Daily is far more like a paper magazine—pre-packaged and self-contained—than it is like the Web. This may be a necessary compromise if news publications hope to create sustainable business models in the post-print era. But it’s definitely a departure from the wonderful media free-for-all that we’ve enjoyed over the past decade as one publication after another has given up on pay walls and simply dumped all of its content onto the Internet for free.

Personally, I’m glad that at least one company has taken this leap—and it makes sense that it would be News Corp, given that its Wall Street Journal is the only paper that has managed to impose online subscription fees without losing readers. I’m not sure how I would feel if the entire news industry went in this same direction. But we’ve got to try something, and The Daily is an interesting start.

*Addendum: Naturally, someone has already hacked together an unauthorized, external index to The Daily’s Web content.

Single PageCurrently on Page: 1 2 3 previous page

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

Trending on Xconomy

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.

7 responses to “Tablet Journalism: Can Rupert Murdoch’s iPad Adventure Save the News Business?”

  1. rick sass says:

    You raise some very valid and interesting points about The Daily, and I must confess I have not seen it yet. But I have read a great deal about it (for free, online :-)), and I was in the print business for more than 25 years including more than 20 with industry leader USA Today (in circulation/distribution by the way).

    While I admire Mr. Murdoch’s efforts and spunk, let’s take a look realistically at the core issue here: can The Daily get Ipad and other tablet-device users to plunk down $.99 per week for digital content they largely can get for free elsewhere? And if they can, will they be able to grow a “circulation” base of 200k-500k daily users? USA Today at its peak hit 2.2M daily “purchasers”, more than a third of whom did not really realize they were purchasing the product. Assuming Mr. Murdoch can get “sponsors” to agree to similar “third-party” purchases, he may have a chance (although I’m not even convinced of that likelihood).

    But the bigger issue is who is likely to go the “true purchase” route, vs. who has purchased (and will continue to purchase) the Ipad and similar devices. It’s not the 50+ year-old traditional news-consumers. It’s the tech savvy gen-x and gen-y folks more interested in Itunes and cool video game apps. And let’s be honest, as compelling as The Daily’s content might be to “newsies”, that is not the crowd who live their lives through Ipads and other digital devices. I frankly don’t see the draw for younger users. And without that draw, there is no chance of success. Period.

    So can Mr. Murdoch build a base “circulation” of 200k-500k “younger” users/buyers (although I’m betting true sustainability lies north of 700k – which, by the way is larger than the circulation of every US print newspaper not named USA Today, WSJ or New York Times) and keep those numbers? I frankly don’t see it happening with a product like this one. It’s not cool enough!

    And from everything I have read about this new venture, the content simply is not that compellingly good in comparison to what is available for (drumroll please) FREE. It is the newspapers themselves, coupled with Google, Yahoo, and all of the other free online news sites that sink this venture. The one thing Mr. Murdoch has going for him is very deep pockets and a will/desire/ego to see this thing succeed.

    In my experience it rarely is the first product out of the blocks that ultimately wins the race. Unless Mr. Murdoch finds a “Willie Wonka” draw out there somewhere. And we know from experience that readers who come onboard that way will not stick unless the content is truly compelling. I wish Mr. Murdoch and his team luck, but suspect they will need a lot more than luck and spunk to succeed.