In the light of news that Murdoch's iPad only newspaper - the Daily - is coming to Europe, guest Cream blogger Rebecca Ironside ponders the question: Will it work?
There’s a fundamental dichotomy at the heart of Murdoch’s new US iPad ‘newspaper’ launch, The Daily.
It’s being branded as a ‘unique’ media venture. Unique is right – it’s a once-daily (hence the name) updated iPad app that tries to feel like a newspaper, and it’s only available in the US at the moment. All content is paywalled, sharing isn’t easy, and only in ‘certain circumstances’ will any story be updated.
Not sharable, not readable by anyone without an iPad, and not updated. It’s like the iPad had been invented in 1995. ‘Unique’ is right – I can’t see why any other newspaper publisher, where fast, new online content is the main point of competition, would ever bring out something like this.
A newspaper is now a compendium of analyses, with some breaking news. It’s disposable and cheap – you can pick it up on a whim, and leave it behind for someone else, or give the sports section to your colleague. But an iPad? It’s expensive and cumbersome, however desirable. But the main point of an iPad is that it is always connected, always up to date. When you read a story on your iPad, you don’t expect it to be anything up to 23 hours and 59 minutes old, however you access it.
It’s not that the Daily doesn’t have strengths. By all accounts, the navigation is lovely – it is laid out in a way that will be familiar to newspaper readers. The images and graphs are also lovely. But the slickness and whizz-bangery shouldn’t obscure the news.
The Guardian iPhone app combines both the analyses from the paper with the up-to-the minute stories that news junkies love. It’s a format that works hugely well.
The type of person who might regularly read a news app on their iPad is just that – a news junkie. Once a day updates, however pretty the infographics (something the Daily claims is a particular strength) just won’t cut it.
So could the Daily ever work in the UK? The model relies on huge numbers of users, so it’s something that sounds like it will be at least trying to do so. But I just don’t see how it can compete on its fundamental purpose of delivering news. And as any journalist will tell you: if it isn’t new, it isn’t news.
Rebecca Ironside is director, qualitative, at market research agency SPA Future Thinking.
As spotted on Right Brain, Left Brain on creamglobal.com