Being in media is terrifying right now. Whereas in the old days, you wrote something and then a fleet of people printed it and handed it to X hundred thousand people so they would read it, now, the fleet is gone. You are alone out there in the ocean and there’s not much that anyone can do for any given story to make sure that people read it. […] We do not control the distribution of our work. Period.
Two years ago, we set out to create a revolutionary product that people would love. The Daily delivered great original reporting, excellent design, and custom interactivity to users every day. Although we have over 100,000 passionate paying subscribers, unfortunately we have not been able to build a big enough audience fast enough to make our business model work.
Memo to staff from The Daily’s editor in chief Jesse Angelo and publisher Greg Clayman.
The News: The two-year-old iPad only newspaper will shut down after releasing its December 15 issue.
The Issue(s): Basically, being locked into the iPad. Yes, the Daily had a hundred thousand subscribers, and yes, it built out a robust social media presence but going iPad only for the meat of its content was too much too soon. There were just too many people locked out (and locked in) for it to thrive.
Another way to put it is this thought from Trevor Butterworth, a former weekly columnist for The Daily:
So, The Daily meets its doom on December 15. The editorial section, et moi, bit the dust over the summer, so not much of a shock. The single biggest failing? You can’t create an entirely new brand and take it behind a paywall after 4 weeks, while limiting its footprint on the Internet, and then expect people to buy it. Where was the marketing?
Second, it simply added more average-reader content to a market saturated with free average-reader content. It didn’t have the courage to be cool, quirky, nerdy, obsessive or snarky. Its demise is a wake-up call for those who confuse cool technology with being cool - and those who think more of the sameness is going to produce a paying customer base for a mainstream media product.
Branding is not about growing inequality but growing equality. In the old world there were a few big-name hotshot star journalists, and a lot of regular hacks pushing anonymous news. In future more and more journalists will be stars — some big stars shining all over, some smaller but maybe brighter stars twinkling to some important niche audience. And if a journalist has no twinkle whatsoever — then it’s time to find something else to do.
Saska Saarikoski, Brands, Stars and Regular Hacks — a changing relationship between news institutions and journalists (PDF).
Saarikoski, a former culture editor at Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat, conducted surveys and interviews with editors, publishers and reporters about the issues raised by the branding of journalists. The result is this recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
Publishers are innovating in various ways across digital platforms. Digiday’s Josh Sternberg caught up with Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, to discuss how The Atlantic will generate digital revenue in the future:
The Atlantic, the venerable155-year-old publication, is doubling down on its approach to the new wave of digital advertising: native ads. Launched three years ago, Native Solutions creates ad programs that have the look and feel of The Atlantic’s content. The goal: help brands create and distribute engaging content by making the ads linkable, sharable and discoverable. For example, take a look at the work it did with Porsche on the image-heavy sponsored post, “Where Design Meets Technology,” which was shared 139 times on Facebook and 80 times on Twitter.
The Native Solutions programs has been so successful that it now accounts for half of digital ad revenue, which is up over 50 percent so far this year.
“A lot of people worry about crossing editorial and advertising lines, but I think it respects readers more,” Lauf said. “It’s saying, ‘We know what you’re interested in.’ It’s more respectful of the reader that way.”
Read the entire article at Digiday.