By Adam C. Engst:
…there’s not much wrong with The Daily if you think about it as just another random news app on the iPad. What does feel wrong, however, is that it has been presented as the Next Big Thing, and that such a large amount of effort and money has gone into creating it. To be worthy of the attention of millions of eyeballs every day, The Daily ought to transcend the digital magazine model and acknowledge notable trends in how people like to read news in the age of the Internet.
I agree with most1 of his criticisms. The Daily is impressive in its technical and logistical scope: having one app with all of that functionality in 1.0, and having so much dynamic content being produced every day, is quite a feat.
But the content is weak, especially in its technological context.
First, it’s weird to me, as a long-time internet-only news reader, to pay money2 for a bunch of content I don’t care about. More than half of each issue is sports news, entertainment gossip, ads, and little newspaper games (crosswords, Sudoku, horoscopes), and I need to buy all of that to get the news, editorials, and app reviews that I care about.
Bundling a bunch of stuff I don’t care about with the few pieces I want to read is the old-world model, when custom-targeted or on-demand news for each reader was infeasible. But in this century, I can go to a handful of websites whenever I want news, view the handful of stories that interest me, then move on. Flipping through a bunch of uninteresting-to-us content and ads was an annoyance of the old world, like blow-ins3, that we tolerated because we had to — but now, we don’t.
These old-world annoyances would be easier to ignore if the content was great, but it’s not. It’s acceptable, for what it is: a very lightweight rundown of the previous day’s most mass-marketable news, with one or two editorials that usually leave me wanting more depth.
I’m definitely not the right audience for it.
I hope it finds the right audience. But I don’t know how big or profitable that audience will be.
And I have one to add: The startup melody, which serves no purpose, ignores the Mute setting. I will therefore never launch The Daily in public, because I’m extremely embarrassed whenever my electronics are audible to others. ↩
Yes, it’s free now, but in a few weeks, The Daily will cost $1/week or $40/year. ↩
The loose solicitation cards that fall out of magazines as you read them, annoying the crap out of you but providing convenient bookmarks on airplanes. ↩