To much fanfare yesterday, The Daily was announced by Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp., together with Eddy Cue, Apple vice president of Internet services. This is the first iPad-only daily news organ, and it represents, apparently, some $30 million in investment.
The Daily states that it was “built from scratch for the iPad,” and it shows. It takes advantage of a number of iPad features, includes 360-degree photos, videos, and even games, to provide a truly unique form of information. At one point, a photo zooms out, at another point a tap on a photo plays a video report, and at yet another, a small box shows the latest tweets on a topic.
But for all these innovations, The Daily is a crappy newspaper with little real news. The first issue has a cover story about the demonstrations in Egypt, a story about the snowstorms in the US, and not much else in the way of news. Most of the rest of the paper is gossip, fashion pictures, horoscopes, an advice column, movie reviews and games. Okay, there are a couple of short editorials, but they’re stuck in between gossip and fashion, and don’t say much anyway. There’s a lot of attention to sports; notably to the Super Bowl, which, it so happens, is on News Corp.-owned Fox TV this coming Sunday.
The sports section is, in fact, the largest part of the first issue of The Daily, suggesting the type of audience the newspaper is targeting: those who don’t care about news. After all, one of the biggest stories of the year – the Egypt demonstrations, and the day that Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not seek reelection – gets a total of five pages, of which about one page is text. One other page talks about demonstrations in neighboring Arab countries. Then another page talks about Mubarak’s son and “trophy wife.” (That one is a three-page article with one page worth of text.)
Frankly, if you were to print all of this out, it would probably make a total of 6-8 pages of a New York Times-sized newspaper. Not much news for a buck.
So a lot of hoopla for news designed for people who don’t read news. The content of The Daily is roughly what you get in European cities for free: newspapers like 20 Minutes in France and other countries, distributed for free near subway stations and in city centers, offer more news than The Daily. They, too, contain very little serious news, and are designed, as the name suggests, to be read in 20 minutes. The Daily seems to be targeting people who think that Reader’s Digest is something worth reading. My guess is, though, that the people who spend what they do to buy an iPad are a bit more educated than those who would consider the content of The Daily to be worthwhile.
If you don’t have an iPad, you can see some screenshots of The Daily on the paper’s blog. This gives a good idea of the share of the paper that covers “real” news; as of this writing, only one of the screenshots shows a news story, while the rest cover the “meat” of the paper: ephemera.
But they got the interface right. I hope others will see what The Daily has been done and improve their own news apps. I would very much like to have a daily “paper” on my iPad, but it has to have real news, not this kind of crap.
Update: today’s second issue has a tad more news, but I counted 25 pages of sports, mostly about the Super Bowl (on Fox TV), and the gossip/fashion/lifestyle crap is nearly as much.Posted: 2/3/2011 by kirk | Filed under: iPad | Tags: iPad, newspapers | 5 Comments »