Murdoch’s flawed “Daily” still worth watching

Posted: November 26, 2010 in Future, iPad, Journalism, News
Tags: , , , , ,

The more I read about Rupert Murdoch’s pet project “The Daily” the more intrigued I become.

With all the properties at his disposal the American media magnate has rich potential for his proposed digital “newspaper” for the iPad.

But the nomenclature is troubling: A “newspaper”? On a digital device?

Is that just shorthand to reference something new against something familiar, or is leaning towards replication of the printed product in electronic form?

If it really is the latter it’s akin to putting coaching lamps on a horseless carriage – not very illuminating and not much use – but that’s the way it looks.

According to the New York Times’ David Carr, “The Daily” will be produced in the evening and “printed” for the next morning.

“There will be updates — the number of which is still under discussion — but not at the velocity or with the urgency of a news website.”

Oh dear, oh dear. Has he not understood Eric Schmidt’s concept of “nowness” – a world of real-time data, blended with location and context.

And iPad only? Surely not, not when a wider, burgeoning tablet market beckons?

There’s also the question of content, the vast majority of which is supposed to be original.

The Guardian’s Edward Helmore in New York says the paper is intended to combine “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence”.

With only 100 journalists assigned to the project at News Corp’s Manhattan offices that’s a big ask

Salon cofounder and commentator Scott Rosenberg thinks 100 staff is plenty – provided they’re the right people and the aim is not to be a matter-of-record publication.

How might that look? Well, with video from Fox Sport and Sky, travel and lifestyle material from The Times and Sunday Times, scandal and sleaze from the New York Post and The Sun and even tech and gadgetry from the WSJ there’s plenty of light and shade to choose from.

Rosenberg argues that the biggest weakness with the proposition is the narrowness of its scope. Like a paywalled website it won’t be linkable or shareable and therefore won’t be part of the conversation around news.

For that reason he reckons the Murdoch tablet will be Dead on Arrival.

For all the unanswered questions – and we won’t know the answers until its launch early in the New Year – the commitment to try something new, that makes use of rich media, incorporates original content and sells for 99 cents a week, has to be applauded, flawed though it may be

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