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article imageOp-Ed: Murdoch’s The Daily gives a major business model lesson

By Paul Wallis     Feb 2, 2011 in Internet
Rupert Murdoch has hit a few nerves with The Daily. This needed doing, not only because of News Corp’s oversupply of dino-media. The news business, which is as innovative as a photocopier, didn’t have a direction and didn’t know how to find one.
The literal translation of The Daily release in business terms is very practical:
"We're giving this thing a run on a known demand demographic, and if it works we can ditch our dino-outlets, and convert them to The Daily format."
News has done the right thing in marketing terms by selecting a platform with a pretty high probability of success, and a market which is app-happy by definition. The comment about The Daily not being “a legacy brand” has a lot going for it. Unlike the ill-fated experiment with The Times, there is no established market to have a negative reaction, and there’s no logistic baggage like print media infrastructure, etc.
The Daily is about 5 years overdue as a concept for news media, which has been wallowing in self pity and lousy business models for about that long. The big cutbacks and downsizing could have been avoided entirely, if this very simple, practical approach had been translated into online capabilities sooner.
This app could work quite easily on any net format, and could also work on other types of hardware without much if any alteration. The software is actually a series of good adaptions of basic existing software, like the 360 degree photos, which are upgrades of the old street view software. There are no particular difficulties in adapting any materials to this format.
Glitches and some wobbles aside, The Daily is likely to evolve from the current format. Flexibility in design is the obvious intention, and there are still a few minor aesthetics to consider.
The “newspaper look” does seem a bit out of place on an iPad. In fairness, a news medium probably should look like a newspaper to some extent, but it really does change the visual context of the views.
The lack of advertising also seems a bit strange. It’s not clear from the release if The Daily will be carrying it, or relying on subscriptions. This is the classic case of a good medium for targeted ads, and it’s odd that hasn’t had a mention so far. has raised a few issues about revenue, but this is no gimme for critics. The Daily can run advertising, if it wants to run it.
Eddy Cue  vice president of Internet Services for Apple  at a press conference in Manhattan announci...
Eddy Cue, vice president of Internet Services for Apple, at a press conference in Manhattan announcing the launch of the iPad-only news publication, "The Daily."
Screen grab from press conference
This should finally kill off the old business models, so the other bunnies can copy it and journalism can find a "normal setting" after all these years of arcane inertia.
The actual effects on the industry need to be measurable. Years of indecision have essentially trashed news media both at the bottom line and in terms of actual capacity to carry news. The old beasts can’t do their jobs any more, and the new app-based approach is pretty much the only show in town in terms of actual business results.
The total lack of comprehension of MSM regarding digital news business models has been a catastrophe for the industry. Print media has been slavishly produced even in the face of almost endless collapses of magazines, newspapers and incredible losses. Murdoch may have done this mess a favor, if The Daily produces the cost-effective bullet that finally puts these obsolete horrors out of their misery.
The LA Times is already talking about “the next news war”, which will be a comparison of The Daily and the existing benchmark, The New York Times iPad app.
All of which leads to one basic cultural question for news media:
Why does it take Rupert Murdoch, the Godzilla of news media, to rescue the business element of the news medium from its own apathy and colossal stupidity? If this from-scratch approach works, it’s a Get Out Of Jail Free pass for just about everyone in the industry.
I’ve said this so often it’s ridiculous: People misread Murdoch on a daily basis, excuse the puns. He’s all about business. He knows his stuff, and knows how to manage costs. You can’t compete with this bloke by waiting for him to make all the moves. He’s like the guy holding most of the pot in a game of poker.
This is another business lesson from Murdoch for the industry, and let’s hope this one gets learned properly.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Rupert Murdoch, The Daily, Business models, News, iPad
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