The future has arrived … maybe. Today, Rupert Murdoch launched his new iPad-only newspaper, The Daily. It’s an expensive gamble – Murdoch has hired a staff of roughly 100 journalists (including former Page Six gossipmonger Richard Johnson) to produce a fully-digital news app. The Daily is free for the first two weeks, and then they start charging: $.99 per week, or $39.99 for a full year. That’s less expensive than the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal (which currently charges over $100 for a full year). It is, however, more expensive than $0, the highest amount most consumers currently seem willing to pay for news content in our brave digital age. So is The Daily worth the price?
Putting aside larger questions about digital media and the future of journalism, The Daily is pretty breezily designed. It takes full advantage of the iPad’s multimedia opportunities, with video coverage, interactive photo galleries, and plenty of audio components. (Many of the advertisements are videos, which will almost certainly get old after a week or so.) An item about Rihanna features a realtime feed from Rihanna’s Twitter stream; an article about the Voyager 1 comes equipped with an audio snippet of the “Message from Earth” embedded inside the spacecraft.
The newspaper is split into six sections: News, Gossip, Opinion, Arts & Life, Apps & Games, and Sports. It’s a bit surreal clicking from a report on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to a video preview of Facebook version of The Oregon Trail, but you have to give some credit to The Daily for literally aiming at every single demographic possible. (Side note: The Daily doesn’t seem to have any incredibly obvious political bias at this point. The introductory editorial notes indicate that the newspaper is interested in school reform, smart environmental laws, and immigration policy, and also they “don’t believe that expanding government is the solution to most problems,” so basically they agree with the average American on everything and nothing.)
The app still requires some tweaks –the Table of Contents page is needlessly confusing – and I’m not sure The Daily’s many technical innovations will lead people to pay money for news that they can still get independently for free. PopWatchers, have you checked out The Daily?