jueves, 3 de febrero de 2011

News Corporation Introduces The Daily, a Digital-Only Newspaper


Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday pushed the send button on The Daily, a news application designed for the iPad that he hopes will position his News Corporation front and center in the digital newsstand of the future.  “New times demand new journalism,” Mr. Murdoch said on stage at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York before an audience of reporters, media executives, employees and advertising partners.

The Daily will be a first of its kind for tablet computers: a general interest publication that will refresh every morning and will bill customers’ credit cards each week for 99 cents or each year for $40.

In journalistic and marketing ambition and scope, The Daily recalls USA Today when it began in 1982: a publication of no city or region that aspires to be a first-read in the homes of millions of Americans despite having no brand recognition.

The Daily takes that same sensibility to the digital age by trying to enliven the printed word with photographs, video and interactive features that work seamlessly together.

“This is about as close as you’re going to get to the first big test of content on the iPad,” said Mike Vorhaus, the president of the media consulting firm Magid Advisors.

For Mr. Murdoch and the News Corporation, The Daily represents something far grander and more ambitious than a new business undertaking: it is an opportunity to try to reinvent the business model for news publishing.

“There’s a growing segment of the population here and around the world that is educated and sophisticated that does not read national print newspapers or watch television news,” said Mr. Murdoch, the owner of television stations and newspapers around the world. “We can and we must make the business of newsgathering and editing viable again.”

With vibrant photos, crisp black-on-white text and high-definition video, The Daily is pan-media — a news Web site, a glossy magazine and a network newscast. Its articles run the gamut from breaking global news to feature writing.

It has the sensibility of a tabloid. There is a separate section for gossip, which is listed as the second section, after news. “Only in The Daily” boasted a brightly colored bubble superimposed over one article in Wednesday’s edition. A headline accompanying an article about the crisis in Egypt blared in a large, boldface font: “Falling Pharaoh.”

Mr. Murdoch indicated that The Daily was intended for a generation of consumers who expect “content tailored to their specific interests to be available anytime, anywhere.”

But the generation of readers that has grown accustomed to curating the abundance of news content on the Internet rather than reading it in one daily or weekly publication has also grown accustomed to having it free.

The Daily’s price is deliberately low. Available only on iPads, it will be free to users for the first two weeks, courtesy of a sponsorship deal with Verizon. After that, it will cost 99 cents a week (or “14 cents a day,” as Mr. Murdoch put it), or $39.99 a year.

With roughly 15 million iPads already sold, the pool of potential customers is not yet large enough to yield the kinds of returns that the News Corporation would need to quickly recoup its initial investment in The Daily — roughly $30 million. Mr. Murdoch said the costs of producing The Daily would be around $500,000 a week, relatively low because it requires none of the machinery needed to produce and distribute a printed news product.

“Our ambitions are very big, but our costs are very low,” Mr. Murdoch said. Subscriptions will make up the bulk of The Daily’s revenue at first. Advertising will make up a smaller piece. So far HBO, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Range Rover are among those to have signed on.

The endeavor has the full weight of the News Corporation behind it, a fact underscored by Mr. Murdoch’s appearance at The Daily’s debut reception. Fox News, part of the News Corporation, broke into coverage of the civil unrest in Egypt to carry the event live. In response to viewer comments that Fox News was covering the news conference because the business was owned by the same boss, Neil Cavuto, the business anchor said, “that might have something to do with it.”

The News Corporation has cultivated a close relationship with Apple and its co-founder Steven P. Jobs, who agreed to allow recurring subscriptions of The Daily as part of an arrangement that stood to benefit fledgling projects at both companies, according to one person with direct knowledge of the discussions about The Daily’s development. This person spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were intended to be confidential.