Mel Martin: The Daily through the eyes of one journalist

Mel Martin
M. Martin|02.02.11

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I've spent most of my life in the news business, both in reporting and management. Given that, something like The Daily is of high interest to me, both as a new media observer and as a voracious news consumer.

From where I sit, The Daily looks pretty good. It's attractive, has some depth and has a varied mix of news. The creators clearly understood that providing news in the digital age isn't just about moving static content to a tablet, but using the features the tablet includes to enable video, audio, animation and graphics in a way simply not possible with something delivered on a piece of paper.

I think the pricing is right. At $0.14 an issue, versus Time Magazine at $5 an issue, it seems a reasonable toll. If I were the New York Times, Washington Post or others planning expensive web editions, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, just ruined my day. Today feels a bit like the day in the 80s when I first saw a CD-ROM filled with thousands of text files. It was something different that had the power to change the way we consume information. I'm just as excited to see how media companies will respond to The Daily.

Apple is finally helping the process along by allowing subscriptions from the App Store. This way, more media companies will join the battle for subscribers. It isn't clear what kind of money Apple is extracting from publishers, and we don't know for sure Apple is giving media companies subscriber information, but I think it is likely Apple will report something -- we just don't know what. The change of terms in the iTunes Store, released today, says that Apple may ask for permission to provide some of your personal info to publishers for marketing purposes. The new terms aren't very specific as yet, but it's clearly a change from the old policies that is enabling things like The Daily to go forward.

I've read most of the first issue of The Daily. It's a great first start. Sometimes ads aren't obviously ads, and they are, by design, hard to skip. The Daily has very few customization options, other than sports or weather. I think that has to change. It's the one thing the print medium can't do, and I'm surprised there are so few options in The Daily to take advantage of personalization. I'd like to lose some things, like the silly horoscope, but perhaps customization will come in future updates.

I think today marks the day that a content company made a significant change to embrace truly new ways to deliver the news. Happily, it is Apple that is at the epicenter of this change. The Daily is a shot fired across the bow of the other big media companies, who will be watching this experiment closely. If the result is better news at a sustainable cost, then we all benefit.

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