The Daily Ditching iPad-Only for Android App ASAP; TBD.com Dismantled, Doomed
After three weeks of publication as the world's first-ever iPad newspaper, reports are trickling out that News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch's pet project, The Daily, will be migrating to a second platform, the Android tablet, in the second quarter of 2011. The news comes barely 20 issues since Murdoch, along with Apple's VP of Internet Services Eddy Cue, announced the launch of the product onstage at the Guggenheim Museum, seemingly wedding the two mega-companies in an innovative space. What does the expansion mean? More info inside our daily media round-up, Press Clips, along with sad news for TBD.com and the Washington, D.C. hyper-local scene, plus, illuminating updates from the AOL-owned Huffington Post and long-struggling Harper's from reporters at the New York Observer.
The Daily Doubled: At MediaMemo, Peter Kafka reports that "Murdoch and News Corp. ... have been clear that they always planned on getting the Daily on as many tablets as possible," meaning "the move isn't a huge shock."
What's interesting is the timing, not only to move forward with the expansion to Android, but also with the news becoming public, via Kafka's unnamed sources, at this early juncture. As Kafka notes, it was less than a month ago when Murdoch, on stage with Apple's Cue, said "we think last year, this year, and next year will belong to the iPad." Additionally, The Daily represented the beacon for Apple in the push for an iTunes subscription service, where the new edition is delivered automatically and the customer charged instantly for every issue.
Kafka writes that "downloads are ahead of News Corp.'s plan," though no figures are available, but notes that the free trial ends this week. We've discussed The Daily's self-admitted struggles before, but if eyeballs and buzz have even been a tiny problem in the first few (free) weeks, then even the tiny 14-cents a day price tag is going to be something of an obstacle. Android, though, will remain on the not-too-distant horizon.
D.C. Disturbance: Last summer, TBD launched as a direct competitor to the Washington Post on the local news beat under the direction of ex-City Paper editor Erik Wemple and the former head of the Post's website, Jim Brady, along with Politico's parent company Allbritton Communications. Two weeks ago, the site was taken over by Allbritton's WJLA Channel 7, which announced today it would eliminate most of the site's jobs.
Wemple, who was not fired, says that, "TBD will become a niche site on arts and entertainment," as a "a big new presence on WJLA.com."
To that end, the people let go were all on the news-gathering side, which fits with the TV station's plan, but completely contradicts the site's original mission. Brady, who left the site in the fall, spoke to City Paper about the changes:
"I still have concerns about whether it's going to exist at all in a year, because I don't think a lot of the public pronouncements they've made have born out over time," Brady tells City Paper. "It was pretty publicly stated when we started that we had a three to five year runway... We've gotten some pretty good buzz. [The site] hasn't been perfect, but there's nothing that's happened since we launched that would suggest the massive changes that are being made are really necessary."
This morning, City Paper reports, "Several staffers appeared to be in tears." For their jobs, sure, but also probably for journalism.
HuffPo Payout: The Observer is reporting that "half-dozen or so" original Huffington Post employees "are expecting payouts of around $1 million each" after the purchase of Arianna's SEO battleship by AOL.
Those without checks coming are not pleased:
"Think about it," groused a magazine veteran not connected with the deal. "Anyone who's been at HuffPo that long probably has zero creative fire, talent or editorial ambition. Now these people are cashing seven-figure checks?"
The big winners are "the most boring, non-personality people," according to a former Huffington Post employee who turned down a big job early on.
Leave it to those sucking on the sourest of grapes to make it easy to root for not only HuffPo, but rich (and boring!) people who worked for HuffPo.
Harper's Hell Hole: Also in this week's Observer is a rundown of the battle between Harper's publisher John R. "Rick" MacArthur and the editor he just fired, Ben Metcalf, who has the backing of his union and most of the magazine's editorial staff.
The whole saga is worth understanding, at least on a cursory level, for its relevance to the intense personal and professional politics that govern any newsroom, but a Harper's-specific detail worth noting is that when Metcalf was fired three weeks ago, "He was at the time in the middle of editing a cover story about Mark Twain by Lewis H. Lapham, a short story by Alice Munro and Thomas Frank's column." And the business-side argument is that his work "could most easily be absorbed by other staffers." Read the rest here.
Page Six on the Media Beat: It's rare these days that the New York Post's gossip page slouches to pick up local media beef, but today they give it to Adweek editorial director Michael Wolff for his slagging of Elaine Kaufman in British GQ. The Wolff article is not online, but according to P6, reads in part:
"This loud, stupid, uncomprehending woman . . . Her baying voice was a particular slow chalk on a blackboard . . . This is a joke. Nobody enjoys this. It's at her expense. She's a grotesque. She's the freak show . . . A Toscanini of crassness."
She died in December, by the way. "I'm quite sure Elaine does not mind bad press in her current situation," said Wolff. But her friends are not pleased.
Editors on a Lack of Ladies: As a follow-up to yesterday's discussion of the media glass ceililng, check out the Sisterhood blog's editor round-up by Elissa Strauss, including comment from the New Yorker, New Republic and more on closing the gender gap.
Our inbox, meanwhile, is always equal opportunity: