My review of The Daily

My review of The Daily

When I first heard about The Daily, the iPad-only electronic daily newspaper, I raved about the idea even though I couldn’t buy it, not having an iPad yet. I concluded that a 99-cent per week subscription with all the possibilities that a tablet form factor and multimedia allow could save the newspaper industry. I still believe that, even after I heard others pan the newspaper as gimmicky, shallow, and difficult to use

I now have an iPad 2 and I have become a subscriber to The Daily. Whatever problems there had been with crashing and inability to download the latest issue are now gone apparently as I haven’t had any troubles, and in fact, I found the experience to be mostly smooth and crash-free.

I do have one quibble, which is that the app doesn’t do multi-tasking. If you quit for any reason, the paper reloads from scratch when you go back in, losing your place and forcing you to find it again. (You can set a bookmark if you remember it.) I also haven’t found a way to read back issues in case I wasn’t done with yesterday’s paper, for instance.

However, as for the other complaints, I don’t find the reporting to be shallow. Each of the articles tends to be just long enough for a daily newspaper. I subscribe to the Boston Herald, which is our local tabloid and I compare the articles to that paper. While newspapers like the Boston Globe or the New York Times offer longer, more in-depth coverage, I just don’t the luxury of the time to read them. The Daily offers the right mix of breadth and depth for me.

Some have also complained that the newspaper has a conservative bias, presumably because it’s a News Corp. property, but I don’t see it. Certainly, I don’t think the newspaper has a liberal bias and so in comparison to the mainstream media, perhaps it does seem conservative, but a scan of The Daily’s editorials shows plenty where the editors took a stance outside the conservative norm. The news coverage itself doesn’t seem to exhibit a general bias at all so far.

My favorite sections so far include the general news and business. I’ve also been happy with the opinion and apps & games. Opinion includes a feature called “The History Page,” which profiles a topic and/or moment in history. Usually quirky, it’s always interesting. The sports section is okay and seems quite comprehensive. I’m not a fan of the gossip or arts & life sections, but that’s not my thing anyway. I couldn’t care less about celebrities or fashion.

While there are ads, they are not obtrusive, with a handful scattered throughout each issue. They can slow down reading as they try to load the interactive elements, but you can often just side past them.

What I have found interesting is that I no longer feel the need to read my paper copy of the Boston Herald every day. Sure, I skim the local news and keep up with a few of my favorite weekly sections, but I find myself turning to The Daily first for the kind of news I used to go to the Herald for. I don’t think it’s because I’m no longer interested in local news, but rather that the form factor and experience of reading the news on my iPad is so much more convenient and compelling that it supersedes any quibbles over exact content.

As I said before, this is a wakeup call for local newspapers like the Herald. Either follow The Daily’s example or risk oblivion. I’m ready to question whether it still makes sense to pay $45 per month for a physical newspaper over $4 per month for a digital version. That should scare old school publishers to death.