Next Wednesday will see the debut of world’s first iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, a publication covering general news, culture, and the like, but in shiny digital form available exclusively as a tablet publication. The Daily will compile stories from journalists working at various bureaus all across the nation, combining them in a format that also includes video; that it doesn’t differ greatly from how newspapers are represented online now is apparently somewhat beside the point, but for one thing, you’ll never be able to wrap fish in it.
More importantly, it’s also serving as a guinea pig for Apple’s new content plan, which involves selling subscriptions for 99 cents a week via an automatically billed “push”—something that could become a future model for selling online journalism. So it’s not surprising that it’s being spearheaded by the man who’s arguably done more to influence the way news is bought and sold since William Randolph Hearst: News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch. But while invoking Murdoch’s name usually causes frightened horses to stomp and whinny in the distance, the Fox News mogul is obviously making efforts to change his image with this thing.
First of all, he’s made it clear that The Daily will embrace a more “centrist” viewpoint, and to accomplish that Murdoch has hired an impressive team of veterans boasting various strengths that includes the New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones, the New York Times’ Mike Nizza, Page Six’s Richard Johnson, and ABC’s Steve Alperin, who is expected to greatly influence The Daily’s emphasis on the video content that could well set it apart. There have also been concerted efforts to find a balance between conservative and liberal pundits in its op-ed section, and to promote an “optimistic, populist stance” to go with its chasing of a young, tech-savvy audience—all resulting in a “fun read” that some sources have said will have a “tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence… The New York Post Goes To College.”
Again, that’s not wildly dissimilar from the content already being churned out on blogs across the Internet right now, but with The Daily it’s obviously all about the wow and ease of the packaging, and should it prove even mildly successful—and with Apple’s support, it very well could—it’s easy to see other publishers following its template toward finding a new way to charge for content, something they could obviously use. Accordingly, some have already speculated that this may well be the beginning of that “future of newspapers” the soothsayers have been crowing about since the advent of the Internet, which is why it makes sense that it’s an undertaking from Rupert Murdoch, who already holds the next several eons of human destiny in the cold grasp of his secretly titanium-boned hand. It sounds like next Wednesday we will once more tremble before him.