With the advantage of hindsight, it seems The Daily made two fundamental, conceptual errors. First, it built an expensive, subscriber-only newspaper that cost $30 million a year in a weak U.S. economy, in a weak publishing industry, in a troubled News Corp company that is taking its best cross-subsidy for expensive journalism -- its booming TV/movie/video-entertainment business -- and turning it into a separate company, called Fox Group.
The second error is more subtle: The Daily doubled down on the mobile trend to the expense of the sharing trend. The social web is on the Web. The Daily isn't. You can create a web page for a Daily article, but it's cumbersome and renders somewhat awkwardly and isn't ideal for frictionless sharing (i.e.: on most sites, you press a Facebook button and your work is done). News Corp built a populist newspaper away from where the people are. They're on the Web.
Many critiques of The Daily today are saying it failed to carve out a niche and locate an audience. Perhaps. When I subscribed, I found it a good newspaper, with great editors and journalists, that broke interesting stories, and built cool infographics. The trouble is, I didn't want to read it, not because of what it was, but because of where it was: Trapped inside an iPad. Building a $30 million newspaper with significant subsidies might be impossible today, no matter where you put it. But it's impossible when you lock in in the app world when traffic on the Internet is all about sharing.
More From The Atlantic
- The Ambition Myth: Debunking a Common Excuse for the Gender Wage Gap
- Who Got the Biggest Tax Break in the Last 30 Years? (The Rich, of Course)
- Here's an Idea That Could Save America's Economy: More Americans
- Arts & Entertainment