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The New York Times' Downloadable Newspaper: Why I Don't Get It

The New York Times and Microsoft wowed the crowd at the American Society of Newspaper Editors' conference Friday with a new downloadable newspaper which replicates the look of the New York Times in a digital form and can be paged through on a tablet computer, home computer or laptop.

On the surface, it sounds like an impressive step toward securing newspapers' future in the digital age. But to me, it seemed more like sticking a horse and buggy on top of a motorized platform.

I just keep thinking about the reasons why people ultimately are consuming news online. a) It's faster. b) it's up-to-the-minute. c) it's exactly what they want when they want it. d) it's free. e) it doesn't clutter up their homes with useless piles of paper.

Other than reason E, does Windows newspaper software deal with any of this?

If you download the newspaper into a tablet, it will not be up-to-the-minute, it will be up-to-the-minute you pulled your unit from its cradle and left your home or office. If you're forced to page through stories you don't like to get to stories you do, it won't be faster to use or exactly what you want. (If you're not, then the paper won't look or feel much like a newspaper, after all). If you can't change the layout and pictures and story order, it's not interactive.

And though there were no prices available in the stories I saw, the NYT's publisher indicated such a service would cost more than a conventional subscription to the newspaper -- now costing more than $500 annually.

I'm sure there are some details I'm missing. Surely there will be search options and customizable features and automatic updating.

Still, so far, it sounds like MSNYT just spent a lot of time and money to come up with an electronic product which reproduces all the reasons people aren't currently reading newspapers.

Bet the folks at Morgan Stanley just love knowing that...

Colbert Rocks the White House

Sure, Dubya outdid himself with the double-vision satire he presented at the White House Correspondents' dinner. But the real pain came from Stephen Colbert, who mocked the administrations anti-press attitude so relentlessly that many felt he crossed an unspoken boundary.

Judge for yourself by checking out his comments here, and his mock audition for press secretary here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]


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