Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. announced on Monday that its iPad-only “newspaper,” The Daily, will close on December 15.
Can’t say I’m surprised. CJR wondered from The Daily’s earliest issues what the outlet would do to make itself relevant in an ever-more-competitive news environment. And as Ad Age reminds us in coverage of the announcement, The Daily, which launched in February 2011, laid off a third of its staff in July, axing its freestanding op-ed section and original sports coverage in the process. Its demise was a slow (by Internet standards) leak in a time of turmoil for its parent company.
It may have been a flawed experiment—news based in the digital space tends toward niche coverage rather than general interest, and there are print-based powerhouses, such as The New York Times and Daily sister publication the Wall Street Journal, that have large, built-in readership for their transitions to digital, which likely will work out. The Daily had to build readership from scratch, further limited to folks that shelled out for iPads. It may have been simply an idea ahead of its time, as tablets of all shapes, sizes, and juice levels saturate the market.
And it may have been the wrong kind of thinking small, which is a combination of my other two suppositions; rather than limit The Daily to iPad, News Corp could have kept its experiment sleek by focusing on breaking news in one coverage domain while allowing for greater platform versatility until tablets became a must-have for more of the population. (I wrote all this without reading other media criticism, but a subsequent peek at Romenesko shows that at least one former Daily staffer agrees with me.)
Whatever the reason, I doubt The Daily’s absence will register on many people’s awareness.
Update: Good related piece by Slate’s Will Oremus here.