Sunday, February 6, 2011

Murdoch's New Project

Last week, Rupert Murdoch launched the first "newspaper" exclusively designed, from scratch, for tablet devices.

The Daily, produced by a team of established, old-school journalists, premiered on the iPad last week in conjunction with a heavy push from Apple Inc. to promote the application, which can be downloaded from the software giant's iTunes Store.

Unlike some other news applications offered, The Daily will require a fee of its readers after two months of use.

Speaking to journalists at the Guggenheim in New York, Murdoch called the production of the app an effort to "completely reimagine our craft," and suggested it would become "the future of journalism."

But whether its possible for such a costly product to survive that provides the same news as other, free apps - including apps from Murdoch's own News Corp. - remains an open question.

While Murdoch has spent $30 million on the project, first critics of The Daily suggest the issue with the app is not its uniqueness as a business model, but whether it could become competitive as a necessary source of news.

One such critic was Slate's Jack Shafer, who related The Daily's founding to the start-up days of his own employer.

"Part of Slate's stuffiness derived from the fact that we were striving to make it look like a print magazine," Shafer wrote. "Why? Billions of people knew what a print magazine looked like, but only the few hundred thousand who had ever read Salon or Feed knew what a Webzine was supposed to look like."

Shafer continued: "The Daily needs to stop being a novelty app and start being an essential app."

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