The Daily: A dumb model

THE DAILY, the glossy high-tech iPad-only newspaper launched last year by Rupert Murdoch has announced lay offs. Of course, i didnt read about this in The Daily, I found out in The New York Times.

If The Daily is meant to represent the future of news, then the future looks bland and impotent. Don’t get me wrong, at first glance TD is impressive and attractive. Like a vapid fashion model, she draws you in, but fails to keep your attention for a prolonged period of time.* Its design, functionality and interactivity should be studied by anyone looking at how best to design iPad apps for publications. The problem with TD is fundamental: nobody cares about its content.

Name one story TD broke in its first year. Name one insight a columnist there shared that made you perk up. You can’t. has created no buzz. If it has done anything significant, I haven’t heard. It has broken no new ground except to be able to say that it was the first iPad-only paper out of the gate. Apparently, it is one of the top paid apps at Apple’s iTunes store. And yet, cares about it.

NYT, Esquire, The Week hell, even Rolling Stone all have iPad app versions with varying degrees of gloss and interactivity. But more importantly, they have writers who draw you in and they have stories that beg to be read. (no, these aren’t all news publications but even the entertainment mags feature groundbreaking reporting and distinct voices.) When I decided where to spend my allocation of iPad dollars, that’s where they went.

Florida Weekly, where I work, is (dare I say it) a sexy beast of a publication. While it’s a sleek model, it has brains to match its looks and it delivers that which keeps readers coming back: killer content. Our iPad edition, while lacking some of the high-end functionality that the big-budget publishers can afford, still manages to give readers what they want — high quality stories and columns written with an intelligence and flair they can only find in our paper.

Good looks can only get one so far. Content is king.

* (Full Disclosure: The “dumb model” metaphor is just that, and does not represent any actual experience with models. I was a pretty shallow fellow during my dating years, and I can only conjecture that I would have spent countless months and perhaps years in the glow of a beautiful, vacuous woman having been given the chance.)

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