Digital newspaper for iPod by Rupert Murdoch
In 1983, while publisher of Infosystems Magazine, Hitchcock Publishing division of The American Broadcasting Companies, we put a picture on the cover depicting the Wall Street Journal leaping out of a CRT (computer monitor) in anticipation that digital media content was imminent. Twenty to twenty-seven years later the vision evolved into reality.
Today, Rupert Murdoch is fashioning the newspaper such that it will display and be read properly in the iPod format. Transforming the design of news from rag to riches is Murdoch’s thing, and I bet it will come out looking good, even if the content might be suspect.
For me, at this point, I enjoy the antiques that I can still find at the library, printed books. I like the way they feel, and I know the content will not be altered moment to moment as it is frozen in time, for the record.
“THE MEDIA EQUATION
A News Corp. Newspaper, but Not in Print
By DAVID CARR
Published: November 21, 2010
Rupert Murdoch, an old-timey newspaper romantic, has nonetheless deputized himself as the digital savior of paid content. Mr. Murdoch is currently leading the charge to build The Daily, an iPad-centered newspaper under construction in theNews Corporation’s Manhattan offices that is scheduled to appear at the beginning of next year.
With an investment of $30 million and a staff of around 100, The Daily will be the first of a kind — a “newspaper” with rich media and photography built especially for the iPad.
The enterprise has made some surprising hires from the ranks of the mainstream — Sasha Frere-Jones, the music critic of The New Yorker; Steve Alperin, a high-profile television producer; and Richard Johnson, the former king of Page Six. The Daily will incorporate some material from the rest of the News Corporation — Fox Sports will provide some video, according to people putting together the prototype — but the plan is that a vast majority of the content will be original.
Mr. Murdoch told Fox Business this week that The Daily was his “No. 1 most exciting project,” a sentiment that was echoed an ocean away by his son James who called tablet newspapers “our flagship project.”
Leaving aside some elephant-size editorial questions — how do you put out an original national newspaper every day with a staff of only 100? — there’s an argument to be made for the News Corporation’s app-centric approach. Newspapers have been so busy trying to come to grips with the Web, but there may be a better opportunity on tablets and other mobile devices on which consumers are used to paying for at least some content.
The News Corporation clearly sees the iPad as a way to bring consumer revenue back to the publication of news, in part because the company has had some success in building a relationship with Apple. Consumers who download The Wall Street Journal’s iPad application buy their subscription from Dow Jones. (The Economist recently announced a similar arrangement because, like The Journal, it was already charging for content online.) Other publishers have complained that they have been locked out of selling such “in-app subscriptions” and left to sell single issues.
(The Los Angeles Times reported last summer that Mr. Murdoch was agreeing to let Apple sell Fox TV shows on iTunes for 99 cents each — over the objections of some News Corporation executives — perhaps in return for most-favored-nation status for its newspaper applications on the iPad. Executives at the News Corporation say that the two initiatives are distinct and that no consideration was asked for or given. An Apple spokeswoman said the company would not comment on rumors or speculation.)
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.
In July, The Times of London and The Sunday Times — both owned by the News Corporation — went behind a pay wall, and the company recently reported about 100,000 payments in the first four months of the effort, only half of which were for more than one-off purchases of a story.
Subtract out subscribers to the print product, as well as Kindle and iPad users — as the digital thinker and writer Clay Shirky recently did — and the number of actual opt-in customers could be in the low tens of thousands. That compares with a pre-paywall audience of six million unique visitors, according to estimates from the research firmcomScore.
With The Daily, the News Corporation can enter the digital newsstand business in earnest with a new product that was never free on the Web and in a format for which payments are easily made. When I am on a Web browser and I bump into a pay wall, I reflexively pull back unless it is in front of something I really must have. But when I’m in the App Store on an iPad, I’m already in a commercial environment: pushing the button to spend small money on something I’d like to see or play with doesn’t seem like such a sucker’s bet.
But Mr. Murdoch’s view that Steven Jobs’s device is some kind of magical kingdom for news is up against some hard realities. As innovative as it seems, The Daily will be a newspaper, an ancient motif on a modern device. It will be produced into the evening, and then a button will be pushed and it will be “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 Web site.”