EXTRA, EXTRA: Students Not So Enthusiastic for iPad, The Daily

News Corp’s The Daily might seem like a groundbreaking new platform publishing news, except that early accounts say that app itself doesn’t work and that the news is pretty superficial. But it also looks like college students don’t really care for it.

In my Introduction to Media Industries class at Fordham University, Lincoln Center, I assigned a research review where students look in news databases about a certain breaking topic in a particular media industry. For their first topic, I asked them to look into The Daily. I asked them to describe what it is, whether they would be interested in such a product, and whether they think it will change how they (or everyone) will consume news.

For the most part, the students were pretty much in the dark about The Daily. Only a handful of them had heard about it, which I didn’t find all that surprising given that it’s a little hard to describe what it is. It’s a news application that you subscribe to for access to news content, curated by the news-gathering operation of News Corp.

Second, when students read up on it, they didn’t seem that enthusiastic about. Almost none of them had iPads, and of the few that did, only one downloaded and installed the application. One of the reasons for the reluctance is the price. When I asked them in class about it, many felt the $40 per year a huge expense. But I think that has to do with the fact that younger students have grown up thinking that the news is available for free.

Third, most of them agree with a lot of the early reception for The Daily that the news just isn’t that good. One student very adeptly pointed out that one of the editors comes from the New York Post‘s Page Six and that doesn’t really exude journalistic pedigree. (That explains why the second news category is “Gossip.”) This might be good for the neanderthals that read the New York Post, but I’m guessing that the iPad’s affluent user base and the serious news reader are a more evolved species.

Most curious, however, is the students lukewarm reception for the iPad and other tablets. I’m beginning to think that the love that the iPad has received has been among an older set of Internet users. It’s one thing that I see about half of a first-class cabin on an airplane with iPad in hand, but it’s quite another when you don’t see too many on-campus. That’s tough because many of the articles I see about the iPad seem to put it as an educational tool. And while I loved mine for reading and research, it was not good for note taking or for organizing my research. (Speaking of which, when is OmniOutliner for iPad coming out?)

One student very succinctly put it, “if I need something from the Internet, I have my phone.” I’m beginning to think that students regard the tablet device’s form versus a smartphone’s form as an analog of the desktop computer’s form versus that of the notebook. Or maybe it’s just a phase, and they’ll grow of it.