Gannett Co., which publishes USA Today and about 80 other newspapers, has succeeded in raising circulation revenue at local papers by putting up so-called online "pay walls," taking advantage of the fact that there are few alternative sources of coverage for certain communities.
Without a unique coverage niche or a local monopoly, The Daily was caught between two worlds.
By being digital-only, the publication didn't have a defined coverage area. It was "in competition with everybody and everything," says Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. Yet it failed to carve out its own niche in that larger universe, he says.
"Its lack of editorial focus played a role," Benton notes. "It was sort of a pleasant, middle-brow, slightly tabloidy mix of news and features. And there's lots of that available for free online. I would imagine if 'The Daily' were starting again now, they would invest more in establishing their brand identity early on."
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