The board on which the news media plays is constantly moving and the only certainty might be that most newspapers are toast and that whatever we predict today will be history tomorrow.
So it’s curious that Rupert Murdoch — who’s in the process of purposefully eliminating his newspapers’ online audiences — is banking a chunk of NewsCorp’s future on a newspaper, albeit an electronic one.
NewsCorp and Apple are reportedly set to announce details of a jointly developed project — a daily newspaper built expressly for iPad-like devices. No print version, no Web version (but “The Daily,” as it’s being called, is likely to be heavily promoted, and its features teased, on both platforms). NewsCorp is said to have invested $30 million in the launch, and has assembled a staff of 100, including five-star journalists, so that The Daily will feature mostly original content (plus, presumably, at least some Fox video).
With each day’s Daily expected to cost 99 cents at the iTunes store, its sales scheme replicates the single-copy hawking of newspapers on newsstands. The product will publish once a day with just minor refreshing between “press runs” (a departure from the Web’s frenetic minute-by-minute updates).
Mediaphiles should have learned by now not to bet against Murdoch in any game, particularly the newspaper game for which Murdoch has a special fondness, and there are sound arguments on both sides.
In a Mashable post on Sunday, Ben Par asks, “Is Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-Only Newspaper the Future of Journalism?” His conclusion: “Murdoch Gets It”:
While I may not like some of Murdoch’s ideas, (see Murdoch: Take Your Google Ball and Go Home), I give credit where it’s due. Murdoch’s commitment to a digital future for journalism is commendable and forward-thinking. He realizes more than his competitors that the future of news isn’t in propping up print publications, but creating truly immersive digital experiences. He may very well be creating the template that brings other newspapers into a profitable digital age.
Meanwhile, David Carr in today’s NY Times is less enthusiastic:
If you want a good look at the past and future of the News Corporation, compare the Web site of The New York Post — surely one of the ugliest, least functional in the business — with its snappy new iPad app. It’s a charming product, one that well reflects and amplifies the spice and excesses of the mother brand.
The night-and-day bifurcation is understandable given that Mr. Murdoch has never entirely trusted the Web, with its terrible advertising economics and brutal fight for revenue from consumers.
If nothing else, the arrival of The Daily early next year will likely push me into the legions of iPad-totters (while I’m a reasonably early adopter, I try to wait at least until Apple’s first post-launch hardware revision before buying).
Meanwhile, I await speculation on The Daily’s prospective impact on the 2012 elections. FoxNews revolutionized television news and helped set the tone and slant of political discourse for all media; can we expect The Daily — itself a revolutionizing vehicle — to do any less?
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Click here for additional reporting from The Guardian UK.