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What Local Newspapers Can Learn From News Corp’s The Daily

Posted by Dan Vigil on February 5, 2011

1. Get back to the basics: While many newspapers are chasing the latest digital revenue ideas in an effort to stay alive, Murdoch has gone back to the basics of news gathering with The Daily. The application accesses location data but there are no fancy directories, mobile coupons , check in features or even the ever popular “Deal of the Day” programs that many newspaper companies are chasing lately. The Daily has gone back to the basics: charging readers for news. It would serve local newspapers well to start thinking about returning to the basics without the printed medium. The advertising gizmos will come after the new audience net is cast.

2. Separate the venture: The Daily was not rolled out as part of The Wall Street Journal or any other publication. It was built from the ground up with dedicated editorial and development resources. Too many interactive ventures at local newspapers are bogged down by legacy newspaper staff and management. In an effort to save costs, projects are spun off using internal resources at newspapers, they ultimately become under-resourced as focus shifts to the core in times of financial distress. Most newspapers are operating on a month-to-month basis which hinders their ability to execute on long or even mid-term projects. Rather than focusing on online-only ventures, they are constantly looking for ways to tie online to the core which ultimately takes interactive departments down with the ship. Local newpapers should create new business units for interactive ventures and make efforts to resource them independent of print operations.

3. Content is not king: The Content “experience” is worth more than the content these days. I admit that I’m more of a sales guy than a content guy, but The Daily content itself is not as impressive as the experience of exploring it on the iPad is. In fact, it’s missing topics like technology and business that cutting edge iPad users might find attractive. It seems like The Daily is geared toward the masses with “News” topics like John Hinckley Jr’s love life and “couples only” parties of NFL wives. In fact, it seems like editors are using online content activity to determine which topics to cover. Many of their topics seem to align with top trends on Twitter and Google. The Daily content is also available for free without the bells and whistles of the device if you’re willing to work a little. This is possible because the articles can be shared via links to web-based versions. Some enterprising readers have even taken the initiative to index content from The Daily on the web, making it easier for non-subscribers to access content without the experience. Check out this site to see for yourself: http://thedailyindexed.tumblr.com/ . It’s as if News Corp is not really trying to put a wall around the content, but rather the experience of consuming it on tablet devices. Perhaps local newspapers should do the same and strategize more about content delivery than content access as they search for pay wall models.

4. Get ahead of the curve: With approximately 20 million iPads in the market, News Corp. is taking a risk on acquiring 2.5% of current iPad users to break even on their admitted operating cost of $500K per week. It’s obvious that they’re getting ahead of the curve here. Local newspapers can follow this lead and develop similar content acquisition and subscription models. If they can muster the resources to develop the platform, it will cost local newspapers much less to serve larger audiences on tablet devices than it does to deliver in print. There are also more opportunities in crowd sourcing and social networking that make it less expensive to acquire local content. Local newspapers can start asking themselves how many subscribers it would take at 99 cents a week to support coverage in a local region. This is a well calculated risk that needs to be taken given the impending growth of tablet devices and migration away from print. People are still hungry for local news, they’re just looking for a more convenient and interactive experience, which tablets provide.

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2 Responses to “What Local Newspapers Can Learn From News Corp’s The Daily”

  1. Valuable information. Lucky me I found your web site by accident, and I’m shocked why this accident did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

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