Monday, October 25, 2010

Morning Brief: time to pat myself on the back, early review had it right; NYT and CNN disgrace themselves again

That first day of the iPad was pretty damn exciting. Sitting at my computer reading about people getting their devices via UPS while waiting for my own iPad to show up I also started to download apps so that I would be ready to install.

The first tablet edition app I looked at here was, of course, the NYTimes for iPad app. Writing that Saturday, I said that the Times deserved credit for getting their app ready for launch day. But I also said that the app seemed like a temporary solution.

But the Times app gives you the impression that this is an interim solution. By posting a free app that gives readers access to some content, they may be paving the way for a paid app, or a paid subscription app. In many ways, this limited content approach mirrors the Times news reader for the iPhone.
Whether the Times felt their app was a temporary solution is hard to know for sure, but it certainly turned out that way. The app was updated last week, a little more than six months after being launched, and now includes more content, more sections, and just about everything (but not quite everything) readers have been demanding. Most people assume it is only a matter of time before the newspaper begins charging for at least some content access.

Like the Men's Health app mentioned earlier this morning, the Times has gotten its share of bad reviews inside iTunes, but recent reviews are better and complaints now mainly concern crashes -- something that happens sometimes with app updates (users need to reboot their tablets occasionally, and sometimes need to delete the old app and reinstall to solve app issues).

It is painful to write these words, but they are the truth, nonetheless: the New York Times remains a disgrace -- the Judith Miller episode has taught this paper nothing about how dutifully acting as the administration's mouthpiece will cause it to lose credibility, and eventually readers.

I do not cover the state of American journalism on this site, instead TNM concentrates on the business side of the media world. There are lots of other sites out there that talk about journalism, but I must admit that the vast majority of them do so with their heads in the sand. How can journalists pretend to offer advice concerning the future of the media business when they will not be honest about the state of their profession -- a profession that is about doing the bidding of their owners and sources, of dutifully hiding the truth to protect whatever administration is in office, the military, media owners, and the like.

If you are not familiar with the actions of CNN and the Times this weekend I suggest a few Google searches, this site does not want to revisit yet another embarrassing series of examples of the state of journalism in the U.S. -- it is too painful for me to revisit here. But let me add, when designing a business plan for a media company I don't think the first actionable item I would recommend would be "lose the trust of your readers".