Almost a third of the staff at News Corp.'s The Daily found themselves out of a job this week when the iPad-only digital newspaper fired 50 of its 170 employees.
In less than a year and a half since launching, The Daily – billed as News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch's tablet-era crown jewel – is already showing signs of falling apart.
The company announced the layoffs and some major content changes today in a memo to staff and a press release, on multiple occasions citing the readers as the force behind many specific changes.
"These are important changes that will allow The Daily to be more nimble editorially and to focus on the elements that our readers have told us through their consumption that they like and want," editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo said in a statement.
"Unfortunately," he continued, "these changes have forced us to make difficult decisions and to say goodbye to some colleagues who have worked hard to make The Daily successful."
Just a few weeks ago, Angelo fought back against "misinformed, untrue rumours" about the paper's impending demise, telling his employees to "ignore them." He blamed what he said were competitors' false reports on the status of the tablet-only paper, and did his best to lift employee's spirits by reminding them of the more than 100,000 paying subscribers who were renewing at a 98 per cent rate and the advertisers who continued to buy space in the periodical.
"Pay attention to them, not the haters," he said in a 13 July staff memo.
The Daily is also mixing up its content presentation, the news release said. The sports section will now be led by in-house partners like Fox Sports, the opinion section will be rolled into the news pages "from time to time as appropriate," and the promotion of other features like photo galleries.
Murdoch introduced his iPad-only newspaper in early February 2011 with a package of nearly 100 pages of original content produced in six different categories: news, sports, gossip and celebrity, opinion, arts and life, and apps and games.
News Corp. hasn't given up on its endeavour just yet, saying in a statement that the company remains committed to The Daily, a sentiment publisher Greg Clayman echoed in a statement.
"As more and more people buy and use tablets in their daily lives, The Daily will grow with them. Like all good digital products, however, we must change and evolve to remain fresh, competitive and sustainable," he said.
The digital newspaper will continue its original reporting, photography, and video, through a portrait-only orientation, providing only video playback in landscape mode.