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Where Will You be Reading This Next Year?

How you get the news matters—particularly to finance professionals, not just accuracy but speed.

Newspapers
Valerie Everett
Newspapers

If you work for a bank or a hedge fund, and you need to stay on top of what's going on in the world, you probably read The Wall Street Journal. So what does the discussion of such things as news delivery models mean to you? That depends.

In an article in Saturday's New York Times, David Carr addresses just such questions.

Now that the Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp., Rupert Murdoch is among a very short list of the most powerful men in business news:

Carr writes: "Rupert Murdoch, an old-timey newspaper romantic, has nonetheless deputized himself as the digital savior of paid content. Mr. Murdoch is currently leading the charge to build The Daily, an iPad-centered newspaper under construction in the News Corporation’s Manhattan offices that is scheduled to appear at the beginning of next year."

(Plus, they've made some cool hires—including "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.")

But perhaps the key to the broader picture is Carr's observation that "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."

Why?

Carr's explanation seems spot on: "When I am on a Web browser and I bump into a pay wall, I reflexively pull back unless it is in front of something I really must have. But when I’m in the App Store on an iPad, I’m already in a commercial environment: pushing the button to spend small money on something I’d like to see or play with doesn’t seem like such a sucker’s bet."

He further notes, on the plans currently under development at News Corp to seize part of the seemingly limitless potential of Apple's new device: "The News Corporation clearly sees the iPad as a way to bring consumer revenue back to the publication of news, in part because the company has had some success in building a relationship with Apple.

Consumers who download The Wall Street Journal’s iPad application buy their subscription from Dow Jones. (The Economist recently announced a similar arrangement because, like The Journal, it was already charging for content online.) Other publishers have complained that they have been locked out of selling such “in-app subscriptions” and left to sell single issues."

However, rave reviews and fulsome praise from the media elite notwithstanding, the iPad model still has limitations, and its future may be less than paradisal: "But Mr. Murdoch’s view that Steven Jobs’s device is some kind of magical kingdom for news is up against some hard realities. As innovative as it seems, The Daily will be a newspaper, an ancient motif on a modern device. It will be produced into the evening, and then a button will be pushed and it will be “printed” for the next morning. There will be updates — the number of which is still under discussion — but not at the velocity or with the urgency of a news Web site."

Carr's most amusing point—and perhaps his most trenchant—is this: "If you want a good look at the past and future of the News Corporation, compare the Web site of The New York Post — surely one of the ugliest, least functional in the business — with its snappy new iPad app."

(I once told a reporter from The New York Post that I was having trouble finding an article that she'd written. I'd been on The Post's website for nearly twenty minutes—had searched every way I could think of—but still couldn't find it. She looked at me incredulously and then, after a pitying pause, said something like:

"That search on The Post website never works. Just type it into Google." Then she looked away, rolling her eyes slightly, in a way that made me feel very old.)

Still, the physical paper has its benefits: Nothing makes you look like a real New Yorker faster than reading The Post on the 6 Train—even if you've just stepped off the bus from Iowa.

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