Murdoch to launch world’s first iPad newspaper

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. will launch an iPad-centric newspaper called the The Daily sometime in the new year, The New York Times‘ David Carr reports. The paper is currently being developed in Manhattan, with an investment of $30 million and 100 staff. It will be multimedia and photography heavy and designed specifically for the Apple’s new tablet computer. Murdoch calls it the company’s “No. 1 most exciting project.”

Carr reports some big-name hires for the digital newspaper experiment (and they aren’t the only legacy media bigwigs headed for the digital world):

“Sasha Frere-Jones, the music critic of The New Yorker; Steve Alperin, a high-profile television producer; and Richard Johnson, the former king of Page Six. The Daily will incorporate some material from the rest of the News Corporation — Fox Sports will provide some video, according to people putting together the prototype — but the plan is that a vast majority of the content will be original.”

Carr thinks the idea has merit.

“Leaving aside some elephant-size editorial questions — how do you put out an original national newspaper every day with a staff of only 100? — there’s an argument to be made for the News Corporation’s app-centric approach. Newspapers have been so busy trying to come to grips with the web, but there may be a better opportunity on tablets and other mobile devices on which consumers are used to paying for at least some content.” He points out that while News Corp’s New York Post website is clunky and ugly, it’s new iPad app is “charming” and “well reflects and amplifies the spice and excesses of the mother brand.”

He notes that “a time when the ecosystem of news is driven by links, The Daily will have no inbound links from other sites, and nothing outbound either.”  The real test will be whether legacy media traditions will be forced upon the new device. “The people who own or will buy an iPad have become used to a Web browser as their prism on the news, not a newspaper and its editors.”

“In the short run at least,” Carr writes, “The Daily will be like a number of Mr. Murdoch’s other newspapers in this respect: It will be depending on money earned by other parts of the News Corporation.”

Murdoch hopes for half a million subscribers in the first five years of publication, which Carr estimates is 5% of today’s tablet users, a “wildly optimistic” figure. And of course, no one knows how tablet advertising will fare in the long-term. But at least someone is experimenting.