Around the Blogosphere: Reactions to “The Daily”

Feb. 3, 2011, 12:55 p.m.

Rupert Murdoch announced the release of a new, iPad exclusive, publication today. Billed as the future of the newspaper, The Daily is kind of a hybrid between newspapers and magazines. A new issue is available every day like a newspaper but the layouts are as design heavy as a magazine, all while leveraging the interactivity and connectivity offered by the digital platform.

Coverage of the announcement at the Guggenheim Museum has been all over the blogosphere. While predictions about how the publication will impact the future of publishing, initial performance reports are generally not too positive. Complaints about strange content restrictions, tweets not being up to date and questionable formatting decisions are pretty unanimous. Aside from that, three themes stand out.

Mashable’s Patrick Kerley goes straight into the million-dollar question: is this the model that will make people pay? The price point for The Daily is one we haven’t seen before. The first two weeks are free after which a subscription costs 99 cents a week or $39.99 a year. It seems like an interesting proposition except that it is still infinitely higher than its main competitor, which is free.

Another theme, related to the previous one is that there is no added value in terms of content, nothing compelling enough to make users pay the premium when they can get daily news for free all over the web. Lauren Indvik, for example, says the price point might be attractive “if [The Daily] had offered one item I couldn’t have found for free, and more intelligently written, on the web.” Mathew Ingram on GigaOm goes even farter than that, describing The Daily’s content as “fairly humdrum day-old stories that you might read in, well…a regular old printed newspaper.”

The third recurring question is about The Daily’s target audience. John Biggs at Tech Crunch has good things to say. He remarks that News Corp has aimed carefully at quintessential iPad user: “the early adopter/rich guy.” Joshua Benton at is not so sure. He raises the question of whether the “big headlines, big pictures, short stories, and…populist feel,” more akin to tabloids than anything else, provide the right fit for the tablet platform.

I will have to reserve final judgment until I have had a change to try out The Daily for myself, but it seems like this is another example of the old guard not quite understanding what the future is all about. Why are the tweets not brought in live if the iPad has an Internet connection? Why are there “issues” that update the bulk of the content once a day? Why doesn’t the content stream in as it’s produced?

Those are the questions that need answering. Putting a shiny new wrapper around old media ideas won’t bring the publishing industry back from the brink. Only true innovation can do that.


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