The debate rages on about the future of print media. Will traditional newspapers and magazines survive much beyond this decade? Are the very expensive marketing dollars required to advertise in print worthwhile? In an ever greener society, does it still make sense to continue an industry which, while vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly than years gone by, still has an inherently non-green side to its personality?
The answers are maybe, probably not and no. And while that may sound grim on first blush, there is still a bright potential future for the written word–albeit delivered in a different manner.
With that, News Corp is finally making good on its promise to make exclusive content available for iPad users. The Daily will make its electronic debut on January 19th giving subscribers instant delivery (and real time updates) of breaking news, and advertisers the ability to program selective marketing into the digital pages. The idea is hardly new, however, and many online subscription-based newspaper models have come and gone with little fanfare; the reason being there are simply too many news agencies delivering news for free on the web, and until the industry unites as a whole, why would any end user agree to pay for that which he or she can get for free?
The answer to that question is probably best addressed by the clever marketing types at News Corp, but the easy explanation is that content will be unique. Users will have access to more information and that information will be delivered faster than they would find anywhere else. Content could also be tailored to suit specific interests and could offer new levels of interactivity that you simply don’t get from reading a blog. At least, we hope that the clever marketing types at News Corp have thought of all these angles, because in the realm of newsprint, they are essentially trying to reinvent the wheel with this one.
My editorial aside, the interface promises to be very friendly and easy to navigate–and fresh content will be king. Take it from me, maintaining an up to date website with a constant flow of new and developing news is no small task. It takes a large team of skilled reporters and editors and researchers; it takes a critical eye and an inquisitive mind. But it doesn’t necessarily require paper to be viable, so if the subscription rates are reasonable and the content as powerful as News Corp promises, this might just be how people read their morning (and afternoon and evening) headlines from now on.