Sympathy for The Daily
Up until today, along with my gig as NSFWCORP's political correspondent, I worked for The Daily.
Today, The Daily died.
I’d be lying if I said that I never foresaw this day. But still, the speed of its demise is surprising – I saw it just last week in New York, and it looked fine.
I’ve been asked to say a few words as The Daily goes gently into that good News Corp. night. I’ll start with a brief explanation for those of you never knew the deceased. And, judging by today’s announcement, that’s most of you.
The Daily was – or technically is, until December 15th – a tablet newspaper conceived of by Rupert Murdoch in a dream...
"The Daily owes its origins to the particular culture of News Corporation. The idea came to Mr. Murdoch in a dream — literally — in 2010, company executives have said. He woke up and called his top lieutenants to explain that the company needed to build the first tablet-only publication." - New York Times
It was designed as a general-interest publication with news, politics, sports, opinion, and culture writing, as well as plenty of photographs and videos. I worked as a steady freelance contributor, writing and hosting weekly political humor videos and occasional opinion articles. Jokes about politics: my thing.
When I told friends and family that I worked for The Daily, few had ever heard of it (working for niche experimental publishing companies is also my thing). I’d describe it as a slightly edgier USA Today on the iPad. Unfortunately, it seems, too many people would rather play Angry Birds than read an edgier version of the paper they get free at a Holiday Inn.
Shortly before The Daily laid off about a third of its staff, Editor-in-Chief Jesse Angelo claimed “over 100,000 paying subs who are renewing their subscriptions at a 98% rate. . .” However, those subscribers never needed to include my friends and family, who could see my videos for free on The Daily’s YouTube channel. Other content was available free on The Daily’s blog.
I’ll leave it to others to dissect the business model, although for the sake of my remaining gig, I really hope there’s a place in the world for some kind of subscription-based journalism. What I will say is that I’ll miss working there. Professional editors, videographers, and producers helped turn my scripts into polished pieces that were almost always funnier than I’d written them.
Plus, I got to say whatever I wanted – I never felt any pressure to slant my work. I did hear that our audience skewed toward older, non-costal conservatives – like Fox News, I suppose – but The Daily never seemed closely linked to Fox. It was trying to establish its own brand, which included puppets and a karaoke video series.
The Daily gave me a platform and a paycheck to do what I love – in this business, I couldn’t ask for more than that. Now, though, I want to take my commitment to experimental journalism further than The Daily, further even than I've gone so far at NSFWCORP. Think about it – what’s better than getting your news from a two-dimensional screen?
Getting your news from a wordless interpretive dance troupe, clad in black spandex, leaping across your own front lawn to represent the very essence of that which we call truth.
NSFWCORP investors: can I borrow some money for leotards?