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Murdoch Plans Launch of Digital Newspaper on Tablets

Saturday, 14 Aug 2010 09:58 AM

News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is launching a plan for a new national digital newspaper mingling video, text and graphics for tablet computers such as Apple Inc.'s iPad and mobile phones.

The tablet paper would directly compete with the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications, according to The Los Angeles Times. But it would go after a different readership than the one using its current app for The Wall Street Journal.

"We'll have young people reading newspapers," the 79-year-old Murdoch said during the company's Aug. 4 earnings call. "It's a real game changer in the presentation of news."

The new digital newspaper would target a general readership, offering short, snappy stories that could be digested quickly. The company has yet to set a launch date, although people familiar with the matter said the news organization would like it to debut by year's end.

Murdoch could potentially invest millions of dollars to staff the operation and charge a yet-to-be determined subscription fee. Though he would draw on the work of the New York Post and the Journal, the app would have its own staff. One person familiar with the plan said News Corp. envisions a staff of several dozen reporters and editors and that the budget has not yet been determined.

Eric Alterman, the Nation magazine's media columnist, told the British Guardian paper that the the idea of pooling resources across News Corporation and recalibrating them for the iPad was for Murdoch a "no-brainer". "This makes perfect sense. He's got all this content that's of interest to people from different localities across America. It will be like a global New York Post without any of the legacy costs."

But Murdoch biographer and co-founder of the website Newser, Michael Wolff, was less confident that the new venture would work. "Murdoch is a man who has tried over and over again over almost 40 years to create a successful, financially viable newspaper in the US, and he's failed every time," he told the Guardian.

As print advertising flees to the Web, news organizations are scrambling to prop up their bottom lines with new sources of revenue.

"Newspapers are looking at this as another lifeline to survive," said Edward J. Atorino, a media analyst with the Benchmark Co.

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