The Daily Turns Congresswoman Giffords Tragedy Into iPad Ad [Video]

Just 24 hours in, the buggy, first ever daily newspaper for the iPad blurs lines between print and digital, advertising and editorial, “wow” and “eww” with a featured video.


The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s daily iPad newspaper, would like you to know that not even a bullet through the brain of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has weakened her love of the iPad, the only device where you’ll see The Daily’s video report.  

Less that 24 hours into The Daily‘s life, we’re getting a glimpse of just how deeply the fear of failure (or, possibly, the drive to succeed) is instilled in the staff of the world’s first daily iPad news publication.

At its launch in New York on Wednesday, Editor Jesse Angelo confidently deflected questions about content with the mantra: “Read the app.” As in, get to know it. Experience it. The idea is that, in doing so, you’ll come to know the features upon which its success rests: the voice, the bent, the bells and whistles. It’d be easy to pick on the app’s clunkiness–lagging page turns, a failure to actually initialize this morning until the third try, audio that keeps playing long after the page turns, interactive features that didn’t quite interact as we’d hoped (suddenly it’s becoming clear why writers and editors–not designers–were touted in the run-up to The Daily). But 24 hours is not a fair time in which to fully evaluate the experience.

That said, The Daily’s biggest video feature on what is, essentially, its first day, is cringe worthy. In the same way that the app has married features of a digital publication with that of a print one, it’s also married elements of commercialism with actual news. 

“Gabby’s Touching Video,” is touted as “Her interview with The Daily before shooting [sic] — and amazing progress through iPad therapy.” “It was one of the last interviews she taped before the shooting that almost took her life,” the reporter says in a voiceover. “Congresswoman Giffords was eager to tell The Daily about one of her favorite things, the iPad.” Serendipitous, to say the least, or perhaps it was merely an answer to questions such as, “Any plans for your own app?” and, “So tell us something fun about your iPad.” The story goes on to awkwardly juxtapose news about the shooting and Giffords’ recovery with her ringing endorsement of the device on which Daily viewers are watching the report. The synergy surges at the 2:14, when clips of the crime scene and Giffords in her hospital bed are shown while the reporter announces, “in another very promising sign, she has spent time in the hospital scrolling through photos on her iPad, just as she did before the shooting.”

Check below for the relevant part, which is also online at The Daily’s website (and indexed, for now, via this probably not-long-for-this-world Tumblr-based Daily index) but isn’t sharable unless you have the app, downloadable via the iTunes store.  


Will we continue to see features that seem a lot like house ads for partner Apple? Despite the early bit of awkwardness, we’ll keep watching, reading, and looking for innovation while flipping through the Daily’s pages. Or trying to, anyway. 

[Ed. note: We’re watching and reading The Daily on a loaner iPad provided by The Daily at the publication’s New York launch and preloaded with app shortly before it became available in the iTunes store.

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About the author

Tyler Gray is the former Editorial Director of Fast Company and co-author of the book The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel and Buy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out in fall 2014. He previously authored The Hit Charade for HarperCollins and has written for The New York Times, SPIN, Blender, Esquire, and others.