So, now that the Daily is out there, who is it for? Who will read this bold new experiment in journalism and why?
First, let me state that we just saw a sea change in journalism as its practiced online. Murdoch’s deep pockets have pushed through something publishers have tried to do for about two years now – namely create a compelling, interactive news source for tablet users. If I may be so bold, I would equate the efforts by Popular Science and titles that previously attempted to move to the iPad as the 1.0, pre-Internet CD-ROM days. The content was static and the old methods – commissioned text, carefully laid out on a page, released monthly at a premium price – are now over. That said, I wouldn’t wager the Daily will be the best or most popular of these new “streaming” newspapers but I do suspect that for the first few years it will be the most popular.
First, the Daily features a fire-and-forget subscription. Once the initial two-week free period is over, fans of the daily will be able to pay $40 for a daily newspaper put out by an arguably strong team of journalists. The Daily seems like the sort of newspaper you read on the couch after work and not on the train before work and the images, design, and Murdoch’s statements about the “wit and humor” of the stories point to stories inspired by the blogosphere rather than the AP Style Guide.
Another interesting thing: You’ll notice that the only real customization appears in the Sports section. News Corps’ private game preserve is Wall Street and once you convince the millions of chest-thumpers who subscribe to the WSJ to also subscribe to the Daily, you’ve got quite a revenue base. Add in the interactive features and you’ve pretty much hit on the early adopter/rich guy sweet spot.
I don’t know where Americans will read the Daily. We won’t read it on the train, that’s for sure. So the assumption is that this is an “end of day” read or, if you’re at work, a guilty pleasure with a coffee and a dozen doughnuts.
News Corp knows how to sell news. Whether you agree with some of their channels and outlets or not, they deal out supremely popular content produced on a daily basis. While I’d say I’m worried about who they’ll sell the Daily to, I believe that the subset of users who read the NY Times and other news sources in Safari on the iPad will welcome a move to a standalone app. Provided the content quality stays high and the news value is there, this could be the first iPad app to beat Angry Birds and, more important, truly bring journalism into the 21st century.