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Why the iPad makes journalism on the web worse

Look at the lovely pictures of the New York Times on the iPad:

Looks just like a paper doesn’t it? Proper columns, pictures and so on.

There’s your problem. It’s another format for newspaper to worry about.

Where the web really screwed up newspapers

We’ll avoid the debate about how most papers were late to the web – especially in the Scotland – but consider this: for years, papers only had to worry about one format, the printed product. Then online came along and there was a whole new language to worry about – HTML, CSS and a bunch of acronyms. And the newspaper online looked nothing like the print version – it couldn’t.

Then along came mobile versions. Some places – emboldened by customers having free wifi or decent 3G plans – decided “feck it, they can just use the normal web version” but most made an effort at a mobile version.

So that meant papers were worrying about print versions, web versions and mobile versions. Some even made a distinction between the mobile version and the iPhone version.

And now along comes this.

On a personal level, I love it. If you ask me, the newspaper page is one of the most amazing inventions of modern centuries – the amount of stories and detail that is condensed onto each page is fantastic – but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a pain in the backside for papers because now, they potentially have all of the aforementioned and the iPad version.

“Hang on,” you say, “Surely – if it looks like a newspaper – all you need is a plugin that takes the page, adds some links – in copy, for video and so on – and Bob is your uncle.”

That may have been the case in the days of everyone using InDesign or Quark but now, there’s a multitude of systems being used out there (some terrible, some not).

So we’re back to an issue where – if someone wants to be decent on the iPad – they need investment money. And if money is getting spent on investment, it’s not getting spent on the essential part – the content creators. As I mentioned before, without the content – and original content at that – the iPad is a big paperweight.

On one hand this could be fantastic (it certainly isn’t the gamechanger that Apple seems to think it is though I have no doubt it will be a success especially when v2 and v3 come along), on the other hand, it’s just another gadget.

(Thanks to Gizmodo for the pics)

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