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Tablet newspaper’s future in doubt after huge first-year losses
Bosses at Rupert Murdoch's embattled tablet-only newspaper, the Daily, have hit back at rumours of its demise, dismissing doom-laden reports as "misinformed" and "untrue".
Staff at the Daily were said to be fearful of the product's future after the loss-making venture was reportedly put "on watch" by parent company News Corporation.
Yet in an email to staff on Friday, editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo said they should "ignore" reports in the press.
News Corporation is said to be weighing the value of maintaining the app as it prepares to separate its publishing and film wings, and will assess whether to shut down the app later this year.
"As for the latest misinformed, untrue rumors of our imminent demise, I would urge you to ignore them," Angleo said.
"Since before we launched, our dear friends at competing media outlets have done their best to wish us ill and gleefully 'report' on what they think is going on here. The truth is we have over 100,000 paying subs who are renewing their subscriptions at a 98% rate and fantastic advertisers who love our brand and keep coming back for more because they get results.
"Pay attention to them, not the haters."
The Daily, which is based in New York, was only launched in 2011, but is said to have lost around $30m in its first year. Reporters at the newspaper are "freaking out" at the prospect of the product being pulled, according to one employee fearing the axe.
The New York Observer was the first to report this week of "internal rumors that The Daily has been put 'on watch'".
"According to a source the status of the groundbreaking iPad tabloid – which loses $30 million a year – will be reassessed after the November 6 election," the Observer piece said.
"Every single staffer in the newsroom read that New York Observer piece, and not one of our bosses addressed us or said anything to allay any fears. Such bad management, and of course we are all freaking out," the source said.
"We've always heard that the Daily survives as long as Rupert survives, because it was his dream, but who the hell knows?"
Angelo finally sought to allay fears on Friday afternoon, two days after the Observer article reported it would be considered for closure. Although an attempt to reassure staff, his email was not without negatives.
"This is the truth about the modern media business – all outlets, including the ones writing about us, are under pressure to prove themselves as businesses.
"We are no exception, and to be sure, we will need to continue to evolve, adapt and change in order to compete and be successful. As something new and different, we are an easy target for erroneous wishful thinking.
"But make no mistake, we will be nimble and we will compete."
The Daily launched on 2 February 2011, with Murdoch saying his aim was "for the Daily to become the indispensible source for news, information and entertainment". Steve Jobs had reportedly been involved in developing the app with the News Corporation team.
"Our challenge was to take the best of the traditional journalism – competitive, shoe leather reporting, good editing, a sceptical eye – and combine it with the best of contemporary technology," Murdoch said.
Users must subscribe to The Daily to access most content – $0.99 a week or $39.99 a year for the iPad version, or $1.99 a month, $19.99 a year for the iPhone.
Murdoch confirmed in June that News Corporation would be split into two separate publicly listed companies. One will handle newspapers, book publishing and education, while another will handle media and entertainment, with Murdoch becoming chairman of both companies.