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iPad newspaper The Daily faces uncertain future

With the announcement that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation will be split in two – with its successful entertainment holdings such as the FOX television network and 20th Century Fox studios being separated from the less-profitable publishing properties like the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, as well as publisher Harper Collins – it was only a matter of time before attention was turned towards The Daily, the organization’s iPad-only daily newspaper. Sadly, it turns out the attention isn’t necessarily positive.

According to reports in both the New York Observer and New York Times, the Daily may not be long for this world in the new News Corp. status quo. The Observer broke the story in an aside about News Corp. closing down its internal news wire system Newscore, with 20 employees losing their jobs as a result, with the loss of “more than twice” as many should the closure affect international bureaus. ” There are internal rumors that The Daily has been put ‘on watch,’” the report mentioned in passing, adding that “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 Times report puts a little more meat on those bones, explaining that anonymous sources within News Corp have confirmed that the digital publication is “on probation and at a crossroads” currently, in wake of the larger reorganizations going on within the company. The Times suggests that The Daily may have less time than the Observer’s estimate left. The paper’s sources suggest that ” smaller ventures like The Daily [will] come under scrutiny in the coming weeks.” Could the digital newspaper be gone before the end of the summer?

If so, it’ll be a sad end for a publication that was launched a little over a year ago with such hyperbole that Rupert Murdoch suggested that it might “re-imagine [the] craft” of newspaper journalism. “We believe The Daily will be the model for the way stories are told and consumed,” he said at the launch, with Apple’s SVP of Internet software and services Eddy Cue adding that it would likely “redefine the news.” Since launch, The Daily has consistently lost money for News Corp., with current subscription numbers in the region of 100,000, each paying either 99 cents per week or $39.99 annually (News Corp. estimates around 250,000 unique readers per month). According to publisher Greg Clayman, talking to the NYT earlier this year, the publication wasn’t expected to break even until the five year point.

Regardless of whether or not The Daily is soon to be cancelled, the publication is (ironically?) expanding this weekend, launching a magazine section called WKND, “filled with food porn, celebrity playlists, photos and travel tips to exotic locales, plus everyone’s favorite DIY projects.” The official announcement promises that “you’re going to love weekends with The Daily.” But for how long?

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