'The Daily' iPad Puts Another Nail in the Print Coffin

Julie Ryan Evans

newspapersToday Rupert Murdoch unveiled The Daily app for the iPad and other tablet computers. Available immediately, now users can have news at their fingertips with no pesky newsprint to muck up their fingers. For just about $40 a year, subscribers will receive up to 100 pages of news and information each day. Widely anticipated in the country, it's one of the first forays a major media company has made in this space.

On one hand, it's a great day for journalism. As Murdoch said, “New times demand new journalism,” and it's good to see the profession evolve instead of disappearing into a sea of bloggers (not that there's anything wrong with bloggers, of course!). The industry has been hit hard by the web, and we've seen countless magazines fold and newspapers crumble. So this is an incredible opportunity for the growth of traditional media if they can get it right and compete with what's already available free on the web. The Daily will be a good test.

Exciting times, indeed, but I also can't help but feel some deep pangs of sorrow as it seems like another step toward the eventual death of the printing press.

Since I was a little girl, I've loved newspapers -- not just the news they contained, but the actual paper itself. From making endless images with Silly Putty pressed against the comics section to cutting out pictures and making collages and wrapping presents, there was always a newspaper on my parents' kitchen table waiting for me.

As I grew older, they were a constant during breakfast as I fought with my brothers over who got which section and discussed news items with my parents. We looked up televisions show times, decided what movies to see, and at the end of the day, took them out to the garage where we piled them up to be recycled.

Those daily newspapers inspired me to be a journalist, and when I went to college, I landed the job of editor of the university's newspaper. We weren't so technologically advanced (I'm not that old) and hadn't yet moved into online pagination, so there I sat many a night with an X-acto knife and waxing machine laying out the paper by hand, then delivering it to the printing press. Never had I had such a thrill as getting the copies fresh off the presses, ripe with the smell of newsprint, and seeing the work we'd produced. I'd cut my stories out by hand and proudly place them in my clip book.

Times change, and yes, I've changed with them. I'm as immersed in online media as anyone can be. As sad as I find it, we don't even subscribe to a newspaper at my house. We've tried over the years, but there they pile up untouched as we get our news online. We've tried just the weekend, the Sunday NY Times only, and a host of other scenarios, but still they remain unread as do many of my beloved magazines that I sadly ignore for all that's available on my laptop.

Still it kills me that my children are growing up in a house that doesn't get one, and most children won't.

So yes, a great day for journalism, exciting times for news, and hopefully such ventures will revive the industry. But it's also a bit sad to see yet another nail placed in the coffin of traditional newspapers, even if they do seem to be approaching "their time."

Will you subscribe to The Daily? Do you get a newspaper delivered to your home?

Image via laffy4k/Flickr

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