/ 14 August 2010

Rupert Murdoch ‘to launch US digital newspaper’

Rupert Murdoch is planning to test his belief in the transformative power of the iPad to bring news to the younger generation by launching a new digital newspaper for America.

The new operation, disclosed by the Los Angeles Times, will be geared specifically to younger readers and to digital outlets such as the iPad and cellphones. It will pool the huge editorial muscle of Murdoch’s combined holdings within News Corporation, which include the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the financial wire service Dow Jones, as well as his newspapers in the UK and Australia.

But according to the LA Times, it will publish customised content that will be tailored both to the digital medium and the tastes of the target readership. Stories will be short and snappy, the Times‘s source said.

As a generalist news outlet, the operation, which has yet to find a name, would take on such rivals as USA Today, the newspaper circulated in hotels and airports across the US, and Murdoch’s favourite enemy, the New York Times.

The creation of a custom-built digital product helps make sense of Murdoch’s strategy as he struggles to drag his enormous newspaper empire into the digital world. It will sit alongside his radical attempt to build a paywall around his newspapers including the Times and Sunday Times in the UK.

Murdoch sees the iPad as a potential lifesaver in terms of its reach among the young and its ability to attract subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal already charges $4 a week for delivery through the iPad.

Earlier this month, Murdoch said of the iPad: “It’s a real game-changer in the presentation of news,” adding “We’ll have young people reading newspapers.”

Eric Alterman, the Nation magazine’s media columnist, said 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 said.

The LA Times source said that the new operation would be based within the New York Post, though it would have its own newsroom and own staff of reporters and editors. It would fall under the control of the Post managing editor, Jesse Angelo.

No launch date has been set, though it is understood Murdoch is keen to have the project up and running by the end of this year. – guardian.co.uk