The Now/ledge

A Guide to the 'Now' Revolution in News / by Alan Soon

Murdoch and the modern newspaper

When was the last time you were excited about the launch of a newspaper?

Come mid-December (or early next year — depending on which rumor you trust), Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp will be putting out what appears to be the world’s first digital newspaper, called The Daily, made exclusively by a new editorial team for Apple’s iPad. That’s right — this is an iPad-only publication, with no (union/legacy) strings attached to a printed issue.

Seldom has the launch of yet another iPad app attracted such attention in the press. Rumors have been flying and this is what appears to be coming down the line according to several reports:

  • News Corp will invest $30 mil in the first year
  • Content is focused on the U.S. market
  • It will cost 99 cents a week
  • 100-150 journalists have been hired
  • Jesse Angelo, the managing editor and schoolmate of Lachlan Murdoch (Rupert’s son), will run it
  • According to The Guardian, Rupert Murdoch came up with the idea after examining a survey that showed readers were spending more time on the iPad than on the desktop. No surprise. Murdoch believes that The Daily will prove that consumers will pay for high-quality, original content online.

    But the biggest challenge is the platform itself. In an age of social media, there is apparently neither inbound nor outbound links on The Daily. What’s the point of a great article if you can’t share it?

    An official announcement has been expected in mid-December at an Apple event, though the FT citing people familiar with the project says a launch in 2011 is more likely.

    Such an endeavor requires the support of Apple, which has so far refused to allow publications to seek subscriptions through its iTunes Store. I’m sure Steve Jobs is no dummy — there is plenty of money on the table for subscriptions. Amazon is doing it with the Kindle, why not Apple?

    Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing

    Blekko scores one for human curation — and why content farms should worry

    Human curation still matters. And that’s the bet that search engine startup Blekko is making.

    It’s premise is simple — add a dose of “social” and what it calls “slash tags” and there you have it: a collection of hand-picked sites that focus on what people (not algorithms) look at.

    The move takes aim at the rise in content farms such as Demand Media and Associated Content that focus on ways to game Google’s through clever SEO techniques. While this is a profitable, scalable way to create content (Demand is off to an IPO soon), users are led down the path of dodgy content whose source or credibility can’t be determined. Would you go to eHow.com for medical advice? (I kid you not — people do because that’s what Google serves up)

    “I personally don’t like getting content aggregators like Demand Media in my results,” said Rich Skrenta, the CEO of Blekko. “They’re polluting the Web.”

    Skrenta, the ex-founder of Topix, has raised $24 million in venture-capital funds. He’s also tapped famous angel investors like Marc Andreessen.

    With a touch of social magic dust, Blekko has brought together in a private beta more than 3,000 collections of sites that can be found through slash tags.

    It’s vertical search meets social. And score one for human curation. Sometimes there just some things that people do better.

    Filed under: SEO, Social Media