Real Journalists and the Daily iPad App

December 3, 2012

Short honk: Publishing companies are good at selling ads, working distribution systems, and creating content for a known audience. I want to ad that these three capabilities work best in the world of paper, educated readers, and business processes set up around the time of Gutenberg.

Creating online success stories is a different kettle of fish. One can’t even wrap the old fish in newsprint any longer. That tells me something.

I read “News Corp. Shutters The Daily iPad App.” Launched with much fanfare a couple of years ago, another “real” journalism outfit has steered its high-tech digital speedboat into a reef. I learned from the article:

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 it uses. 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.

I think this is a gentle description of another real journalist goof. I am 68 and have worked at a couple of pretty good publishing outfits when paper was king. The ability to use an app and to talk about an app are different from delivering a winner. Paper is one world. Digital is another world. Different in my opinion. Dinosaurs don’t like snow but think the thaw is coming. Did not happen based on what I read.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2012

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