News Corp (NWS) is taking the iPad very seriously as a new way to distribute the news. The media giant is taking it so seriously that it is developing a new publication called the Daily which will only be available on the iPad (no print edition, no Website). News Corp is hiring 100 journalists for this iPad newspaper and is reportedly working with engineers on loan from Apple (AAPL) to make it shine.
The last time a big media company hired so many journalists to launched a splashy new publication was Conde Nast’s Portfolio magazine, which was more of a print venture and didn’t survive. I hope the Daily fares better and really takes this opportunity to rethink how news is presented to readers without any of the limitations of print. For one thing, based on who is getting hired for this project, it looks like the Daily will be heavy on video, interactive graphics, and rich photos. Nothing too startling there. Pretty much every newspaper and magazine edition on the iPad is going in that direction. With all the hype that is brewing around the project, hopefully it will push the envelope beyond those obvious iPad features.
But the fact that News Corp. is putting so many resources into this project raises a basic question that has yet to be answered satisfactorily: What should an iPad newspaper look like?
Well, I am not sure it should look like a newspaper at all. The nice thing about starting from scratch is that the Daily won’t have to feel familiar in the same way that an iPad app for the Wall Street Journal or New York Times does. I fear that even the Daily will be too parochial, showing only news and content produced by its staff. But people no longer limit their news consumption to one publication, even within a single reading session.
From a reader’s perspective, the optimal iPad newspaper should be three things:
- Social: It should show you what your friends and the people you trust are reading and passing around, both within that publication and elsewhere on the Web.
- Realtime: News breaks every second, and publications need to be as realtime as possible to keep up. A “daily” already sounds too slow.
- Local: The device knows where you are and should serve up news and information accordingly, including, weather, local news and reviews.
In other words, it should look a lot more like Flipboard or Pulse, integrating news from people’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. I will be surprised if the Daily follows any of these three tenets. The purpose the iPad-only publication seems to be to isolate readers in the iPad so they have to pay for it. But even if that is the case, it won’t succeed unless it embraces the rest of the Web.