iPhone Life magazine

Why I subscribed to The Daily

When I first tried The Daily, my response was, "Wow, this is cool. It makes me think of something that Steve Jobs would create." Then I read in the news reports that in fact he was actually involved in this project by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Simply put, The Daily feels visionary — different from other news apps. And for several specific reasons.

First of all, I like the fact that it's discrete. (And I don't mean "discreet.") Like a paper-based newspaper or magazine, it's a curated package. You don't get that with many other news apps, which mostly feed you a mish-mash of constantly updated content from a variety of sources. I like checking out the news sites, but I also very much like the experience of a newspaper or magazine, which has a sort of wholeness that web news doesn't. The Daily gives you a buffet of items, nicely displayed on an attractive carousel. 

In addition, I like the fact that you can read it offline. When you first access the app each day, it downloads the new issue. On a fast WiFi connection, it takes less than a minute. I haven't tried it over 3G, and I'm not sure I'd want to. When it's downloading, I feel like The Daily is being delivered to me. It's much different from the experience of accessing a website.

Also, I like not having the distraction of connectedness. When I'm on a website, I'm always being distracted by something else, some connected thread that takes me elsewhere. There's always a feeling of wanting to go someplace new.

Plus, many news sites these days are a combination of articles and blogs and comments — and noise. Sometimes on the New York Times website, I'm not clear whether I'm reading an article or a blog, and if the latter, what sort of editorial control there is. Does a blog post undergo the same renowned fact-checking that articles do? With The Daily, I'm getting a real newspaper — a range of articles and other media that have been edited and fact checked and presented in quite an attractive way.

The Daily has variety that I can browse, like a newspaper, whereas when I read Internet news sites, I'm usually just focused on topic areas that interest me. And The Daily effectively — and judiciously — uses multimedia, such as animations, 360-degree panoramic images, and videos. While it has characteristics of a newspaper, it clearly is fashioned to take advantage of the new medium, but without the media aspects intruding on editorial. Rather, these aspects do a nice job of complementing it.

The cost is $0.99 per week or $40 per year, and I went ahead and subscribed.

It's interesting that Adam Engst, writing in TidBITS, is quite critical of The Daily — for all the same reasons that I like it. If you want the experience of Internet news, use a different app. If you want the experience of a newspaper, get The Daily.

My only criticism so far is that navigation can bog down a bit. And it took me a little while to get a feeling for how the app is organized. But once I understood it, I liked it  a lot. (Of course, if I had watched the video that accompanies the post or even attended to the directions on the table of contents page, I would more quickly have understood it.)

Like others, I'm a little wary of content from News Corp because of Fox. And in the end, whether I continue with the publication or not will depend on editorial quality. For now, the concept seems visionary — extremely well conceived and refreshing in its effectiveness in combining the old and the new. It retains the advantages of a newspaper while successfully adapting it to a new medium.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.