Anyone who’s heard Rupert Murdoch speak in the last six months (the real Rupe, not the dude in the News Corp. cafeteria) knows he’s in love with iPad — or has, at the very least, ingested a generous portion of Steve Jobs’ Apple-flavored Kool-Aid.
During earnings calls with investors, for example, Murdoch has consistently referred to the device as a “game change-ah,” ("We'll have young people reading newspapers," the 79-year-old beamed on August 4) and has long-promised News Corp. news on that front.
Well, here's some: according to the Los Angeles Times, Murdoch is “embarking on an ambitious plan for a new national digital newspaper to be distributed exclusively as paid content for tablet computers such as Apple Inc.'s iPad and mobile phones.”
The digital newspaper “would target a more general readership, offering short, snappy stories that could be digested quickly,” according to the report. Its newsroom “would operate under the auspices of the [News Corp.-owned] New York Post and be overseen by its managing editor, Jesse Angelo.”
In June, the company acquired Skiff, an e-reading platform for digital devices – including tablets — owned by Hearst, a deal that appears to be at work here.
A representative for News Corp. did not immediately return a request for comment on the report.
If true, though, Murdoch’s new toy — said to be targeting a fall launch — would compete with tablet versions of the New York Times and USA Today, as well as his own Wall Street Journal, which charges $4 a week for its digital subscription. (The Times has a free, ad-supported app that’s been downloaded more than 400,000 times, according to the paper.)
But the plan is in line with Murdoch’s new media mantra: news is not free, and consumers will pay us.
His Times of London recently erected a digital pay wall, and Rupe always boasts about the Wall Street Journal’s success in getting people to pay online.
Murdoch has the cash for such experiments. In May, he hinted that News Corp. might make several investments this year, given the company's "growing air of confidence" about the economy and an abundance of cash on its balance sheet.
[Photo illustration: TheWrap]