November 27, 2010 • 22:30
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
It isn’t as though journalism needed another threat; there are plenty to choose from.
But the rise of paywalls, most recently seen in the UK’s Times, Sunday Times and Rolling Stone magazine, may be the medicine that kills the patient.
Repeat after me: Traffic leads to money and in turn, is far more capable at enhancing the quality of journalism than undermine it.
Putting great stories, photos and video behind a ringed fence only diminish the overall pool of news in the industry. As David Amerland, an SEO specialist describes it:
“The approach threatens journalists, whose jobs will be the next to go as online news readers dwindle and revenue drops even further. This threatens journalism because it encourages the emergence of less professional services that directly, and more successfully, compete with it.”
Is isolation really the best way forward for news organizations? Advertising, long abandoned as a savior for online newsrooms, could be a viable option in the near future.
According to Peter Kirwan, who crunched the numbers in an article for Wired, an ad-supported Guardian could turn off the presses by 2015. Assuming no increase in the cost of operating the Guardian newsroom and a modest 20 percent increase in ad revenue, freedom could be a mere five years away.
Can newsrooms afford to wait? More importantly, will the audience?
(Photo: Jeremy Brooks/Creative Commons)
Filed under: Jobs, Newspapers, Publishing
Just how far will a publisher go to protect its content assets in an online world?
The Nikkei this month took the extreme (and inexplicable) step of restricting any links to its articles — even to its own home page.
Under its new policy of requiring paid subscriptions, the Japanese financial news publication wants written requests for linking to the site. The Nikkei said the rules are meant to protect the pay wall and to stop linking from “inappropriate” sites that may try to manipulate stocks by misrepresenting the articles. Offenders are threatened with legal action.
Despite its role in the digital revolution, Japanese media still work in an isolated pond, stifiling innovation in news. Perhaps this is best understood in context: The country is home to the world’s biggest newspapers — the Yomiuri (with about 10 million readers) and the Asahi (8 million). Publishers are clearly trying to build a moat to prevent the cannibalizing of newspapers.
Extreme times — and equally extreme measures indeed.
(Photo/Creative Commons: Okinawa Soba, Flickr)
Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing, Japan, Nikkei
The Wall Street Journal’s pricing for its iPad subscription offers an interesting insight into how Rupert Murdoch is looking at tablet computing — in short, a premium cash cow.
WSJ’s app is free to download but costs users US$3.99 a week. For that amount, you’ll get access to the Business, Markets and Opinion sections.
This is how it compares to other WSJ subscriptions in the U.S. on a monthly basis:
iPad edition: $17.29 a month
Kindle edition: $14.99 a month
Print edition: $9.16 a month
Web edition: $7.96 a month
Is Murdoch insane? I’m not sure if I get it; what is it about the iPad that warrants a premium? The cost of production for iPad content is virtually zero for the WSJ — so why is that almost double the price of the physical newspaper?
Clearly, the WSJ is looking to test the market for iPads. But this is risky and runs the risk of alienating a wider audience that the paper needs to reach. The iPad has a tremendous opportunity to connect with new users. So why blow it?
Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing, iPad
I recognize that I’ve been quick to dismiss Apple’s iPad; now I want one.
When I first saw the keynote by Steve Jobs, I thought to myself how lame it was — that really, the iPad is nothing more than a bigger iPod Touch or an iPhone.
I’ve come around to see that there’s more to that. In many ways, it is just a larger screen, but the iPad will give content publishers a new and far more interesting way to distribute and engage their audiences.
So what got me going? This video by Wired and Adobe. Check out what Wired wants to do with its articles on an iPad. Then come back and tell me if this doesn’t get you going.
And if you haven’t already heard, the iPad hits the shelves in the U.S. on April 3. It reaches Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April.
Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing, Tools
David Schneiderman, the ex-CEO of Village Voice Media, has a fantastic piece in TechFlash about the current ecosystem we live in, and in particular the all-too-familiar view of the world after newspapers.
His forecasts aren’t as interesting as his concise summary of the current state of play. Here are the main points:
Demand-driven journalism increasingly influences news judgments
Web journalism is fast becoming the dominant form of news media
Nothing is ever final online
The best and most influential reporters are becoming brand names.
The distinction between news and opinion will continue to erode
I find the first point especially interesting. You can’t deny the fact that web editors and producers are counting the clicks, comments and page views that you leave behind.
This is worrying; in the last two years alone, there has a been a dramatic change in the way we write headlines (primarily to feed hungry search engines). There are more lists, more magazine-style coverlines. And all this at the expense of good, clear writing.
The definition of “news judgement” has changed. It’s no longer about what people need to know (and what you, the editor, know), but what people will find “interesting” — the definition of which is vague, but ironically, measurable.
I miss newspapers already.
(Photo/Creative Commons: inju, Flickr)
Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing
Here’s a reality check for media companies thinking about putting up a pay-wall (even though you’ve ignored surveys telling you exactly this) — there’s no guarantee you’ll find the subscriber numbers you’re looking for.
After three months of putting up its pay-wall, only 35 (yes, thirty-five) people have subscribed to the news service, which costs $5 a week or $260 a year.
In that time, it’s not surprising that the company would have taken a hit on its traffic numbers, further depressing its ad revenue.
Newsday is especially important for the industry since it was one of the first non-business dailies to establish a subscription-based system online.
Plenty of lessons here for the New York Times. But really, are you surprised?
Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing