Does the Daily Change Everything?

There really isn’t a person who comes out of print–or television news, for that mattter–who doesn’t want to see Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily do everything the press baron talked about in his press conference introduction today. Murdoch hopes his new venture will unlock the hidden space where print will thrive again.

Love or hate News Corp’s content, we all long for the days when print created a milieu of glamor, excitement and urgency either through tabloids, glossies or broadsheets.

The coming of the internet has flattened all content so it appears nearly indistinguishable. Paradoxically, that has been a boon to the big newspapers with broad reach on their editorial staffs and the ability to create interesting multi-media like the New York Times’s info-graphics or the Wall Street Journal’s video content.

Unfortunately, today’s big reveal of The Daily shows us nothing more interesting than a magazine app that refreshes its content on a daily basis. Consumers have already sighed heavily at magazine apps. They’re just not that impressed by adding video and still photography to print and offering some navigation gimmicks like The Daily’s carousel.

This isn’t a slam on Jesse Angelo or the people who put The Daily together. They made a fun magazine app with the tools given to them. But its already too late to generate excitement around turning your iPad from portrait to landscape or getting a video trailer of a new movie. The touch-screen form loses its gee-whiz factor fairly quickly. Words are words; images are images; and video is video. What matters is the quality fo the content, not how that content is interlaced together within an app.

On The Daily’s content, it’s pointless to judge a publication by its first issue. They all take some time to find their voice and bailiwick. But there’s nothing in The Daily that could not come from any other Murdoch publication. (Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? ) The editorial team is primarily composed of old hands from the mothership.

It may just be that tablets are not going to save what used to be called the print world. Electronic distribution places a premium on immediacy. Who hasn’t been captivated by Al-Jazeera English’s live feed from Cairo this week? Print plays up mediation. Great photos don’t look like real life. They look larger than life.

It is worth noting that The Daily’s 360-degree photos don’t make you feel like you’re actually on the scene. They make you feel like you’re viewing the scene through a periscope.

Murdoch was forceful in making the point that he doesn’t want to see the general interest magazine or newspaper–a place for “news discovery”–die out. That’s a noble desire. Yet it is also a nostalgic one. The web shows us that discovery takes place in other venues now, through search, aggregation and social media.

The Daily is trying wrap its arms around a space that simply no longer exists.

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