Posts Tagged ‘Alan Mutter’

Wednesday was a big day for journalism…I think.

News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch and Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet services, rolled out “The Daily,” the first news application written and designed specifically for the iPad.

Let me make that clear: This is an online “newspaper” — consisting of six sections a day — written and produced exclusively for the iPad. It’s not copy and photos generated by Murdoch’s Fox News, Wall Street Journal, New York Post or The Times of London (he owns them all) and repackaged for the application. No, it’s original content channeled directly to subscribers.

The subscription price is 99 cents a week, $40 per year, or — as Murdoch put it — “14 cents a day.” The first two weeks of The Daily will be free through a sponsorship arrangement with Verizon.

Among The Daily’s features are 360-degree photos, video clips and interactive timelines.

“Simply put,” said Murdoch, “the iPad demands that we completely reinterpret our craft.”

FoxNews.com said that News Corp. officials have been tight lipped about such things as how many subscribers The Daily will need to be considered a success, how many people have been hired to produce the content and how much money News Corp. has spent to develop the service.

So, what to make of this newfangled news product?

The New York Times, in an online story Wednesday, said Murdoch was aiming to “put his News Corporation front and center in the digital newsstand of the near future.”

My favorite journalistic blogger, Alan D. Mutter of Reflections of a Newsosaur, said The Daily “could be a captivating hit, a spectacular miss or something in between.”

“But one thing is sure,” Mutter said. “Rupert Murdoch, the last swashbuckling publisher of our time, will shake up the media world” with The Daily.

(Footnote: Today (Thursday), Mutter posted another blog entry saying The Daily’s debut was a flop. )

Murdoch and Cue unveiled The Daily at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, where Murdoch told an audience of reporters, employees and advertising partners, “There’s room for a fresh and robust voice” in the tablet era.

The target audience, said The Times, is “a generation of consumers who did not read national newspapers or watch television news, but did consume media.”

A News Corp. official said The Daily would produce up to 100 pages a day. While it will come out once a day, he said, the editors would be able to “break into the app at any time” to add breaking news stories.

In his post, published Monday, Mutter outlined several key factors in why The Daily might succeed…and why it might fail.

On the up side, he said, it can pull from the resources of all the Murdoch properties; it can be marketed on all those properties “every hour of every day, around the world and around the clock”; and it will have the full weight of the Murdoch financial empire behind it.

“With $33 billion in sales and $5.7 billion in operating profit, News Corp. is well positioned to subsidize the Daily for as long as Mr. Murdoch cares to pursue the project,” Mutter said.

On the down side, Mutter cited the fact that it’s not free; widespread competition from many well-established news brands; the finite market potential of the iPad; and what he called “the chasm challenge.”

Regarding the market potential, Mutter estimated that there would be about 40 million iPads in the hands of consumers by the end of this year. If 2 percent of those users subscribed to The Daily, he said, the project could generate about $40 million a year in subscriptions alone. But if only .5 percent of iPad users signed up, the project would bring in only $10 million in subscription sales, perhaps not enough to be viable.

Explaining “the chasm challenge,” Mutter said The Daily “will have to cross the chasm of anonymity and consumer indifference in order to amass the critical number of readers it needs to generate adequate subscription and advertising revenues.”

“The longer The Daily takes to break even, the more expensive the venture will be for News Corp.,” Mutter said. “While the 79-year-old Mr. Murdoch likely is prepared to underwrite many millions in losses, his patience and lifespan are not inexhaustible.”

My opinion? I don’t know what to say. I don’t have an iPad and don’t intend to get one anytime soon. I’m still yoked to the print product, although I’ve learned to navigate the electronic pathways, too.

One thing I will not do is dismiss the Murdoch initiative as folly. Shortly after I started this blog last year, I reprinted a speech that Arthur Ochs (Punch) Sulzberger, former publisher of The New York Times, made in Kansas City in May 1994. In that speech, he dismissed the fledgling Internet as so much folderol.

Here’s an excerpt from that speech:

“It is my contention that newspapers are here to stay. They are not going the way of the dinosaur – rendered extinct, in this case, by the wonders of a new technology that will speed us down an interactive information superhighway of communications.

“I’ll go one further. I believe that for a long time to come this information superhighway, far from resembling a modern interstate, will more likely approach a roadway in India: chaotic, crowded and swarming with cows. Or, as one might say, udder confusion.”

Ha, ha, Punch. Very funny…No, I won’t be making any jokes about The Daily.

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