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News Corp. to Offer Exclusive Newspaper for Tablets and Cell Phones

Joining the growing number of news agencies that are looking to capitalize on the mobile device market, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has announced that it will launch a new digital newspaper for mobile readers.  The newspaper will be released through the New York Post, but it will feature content created exclusively for digital distribution.

The new subscription-based service is expected to be released later this year under the New York Post banner, although an official date has not yet been given. Unlike News Corp.’s business-focused Wall Street Journal — which offers an iPad app with a $4 weekly subscription fee — the New York Post app would be geared to a wider audience, with short articles written to be digested quickly.

New York Post rival, the New York Times, currently offers a similar app with over 400,000 subscribers, which debuted as a launch offering for the iPad. While the app is currently free, the Times is planning on switching to a paid subscription model by the end of the year.

News Corp. has been experimenting with the pay wall model for many of its online newspapers, but the results have been less than encouraging. The London Times, a flagship paper for News Corp., recently changed its online format to require readers to subscribe and pay a monthly fee. Business Insider is reporting that since the change occurred in May, the website has lost more than 1.2 million of its 2.7 million online readers.   Some reports had the traffic fall as much as 90 percent from 2009.

Despite the poor results, Murdoch has been pushing for all media to embrace paid web content.

“We need to do a better job of persuading consumers that high-quality, reliable news and information does not come free,” Murdoch said in December of 2009 at a workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission. “Good journalism is an expensive commodity.”

Despite the poor pay wall results, News Corp. continues to try gain a strong foothold in the burgeoning digital news industry. Buoyed by the success of the iPad and smartphones including the iPhone, the ways that people are reading news has drastically changed over the last few years, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. News Corp.’s new digital newspaper will be overseen by the New York Post’s managing editor, Jesse Angelo, but according to a source close to News Corp. that spoke with the LA Times, the digital newspaper could employee several dozen reporters and managing editors, although the budget has not been set.

“We’ll have young people reading newspapers,” the 79-year-old Murdoch said during the company’s Aug. 4 earnings call. “It’s a real game changer in the presentation of news.”