Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

News Corp. Shutters The Daily iPad App

The Daily, News Corp.’s attempt to create a newspaper for the iPad era, is shutting down after less than two years.

The media giant, which also owns this Web site, said it will “cease standalone publication” of the app on Dec. 15.

It says that “technology and other assets from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into” News Corp.’s New York Post tabloid. The app/newspaper has approximately 120 employees.

News Corp. made the announcement in the midst of other organizational changes in advance of the company’s upcoming breakup, which will spin off the company’s publishing assets into a new, separately traded company. Here’s Murdoch’s take on The Daily, via a press release:

From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term. Therefore we will take the very best of what we have learned at The Daily and apply it to all our properties. Under the editorial leadership of Editor-in-Chief Col Allan and the business and digital leadership of Jesse, I know The New York Post will continue to grow and become stronger on the web, on mobile, and not least, the paper itself. I want to thank all of the journalists, digital and business professionals for the hard work they put into The Daily.

Jesse Angelo, The Daily’s editor-in-chief, will become publisher of the Post; Daily publisher Greg Clayman will get a job heading up digital at the new publishing company. Earlier this year, The Daily cut a third of its staff.

Some of News Corp.’s other key moves in the split have already been reported: Robert Thomson, for instance, the Wall Street Journal’s current managing editor, will run the new company, and Thomson’s deputy Gerard Baker will get Thomson’s old job.

  • The “new” publishing company, which includes Dow Jones, News Corp.’s other newspaper assets and HarperCollins publishing, will be named “News Corp.” The remaining part of the “old” News Corp. — primarily, its TV and film assets — will be renamed “Fox Group.”
  • Current New York Post publisher Paul Carlucci, who is also chairman of News America Marketing, will now “focus exclusively” on that job.

The Daily launched in February 2011 with a great deal of fanfare and a blessing from Apple, which worked closely with News Corp. to get the  paper off the ground. But The Daily never clicked, and struggled to attract subscribers.

The app was initially hampered by technical problems, but The Daily’s key issue was a conceptual one. While the app boasted lots of digital bells and whistles, in the end it was very much a general interest newspaper that seemed to be geared toward people who didn’t really like newspapers. You can’t make that work no matter what kind of platform you use.

The real surprise would have been if News Corp. had found a way to keep The Daily around, since the tablet newspaper’s fate was essentially sealed this summer when the corporate split was announced.

The money-losing Daily has been on News Corp. COO Chase Carey’s pet peeve list for a long time, but it was also a passion project for Murdoch, whose first love was and is newspapers. And the old News Corp. structure let Murdoch subsidize passion projects with profits from his TV business.

Presumably he’ll still be able to do some experimenting at the new/old publishing company, but it will be much harder to do that stuff without TV money to prop it up.

UPDATE:

Like moving pictures? Here’s a clip of me gassing on with All Things Digital’s excellent Lauren Goode about the Daily’s demise, via WSJ.com’s Digits show.


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