The Daily's Greg Clayman celebrates freedom from legacy costs

It isn’t easy to define “The Daily.” Publisher Greg Clayman relishes this fact for a few reasons. It looks pretty like a magazine, but it’s not a magazine. It’s not a newspaper or website, and yet it is. “It’s really something new,” he said at yesterday’s paidContent 2011 conference in New York City. Even the offices of “The Daily” look a little different, he said. It looks like a newsroom, but it also looks like a startup. “We went from a standing start … to a full fledged digital newsroom,” he said.

Building a new publication for distribution on tablets, exclusively Apple Inc.’s iPad for the time being, means that there are no legacy costs. That freedom affords “The Daily” a lot of room to innovate and try new things, Clayman said. Other than the obvious operational costs that come with publishing an issue with at least 100 pages of fresh content every day, The Daily’s only distribution cost is the cut that app stores impose on publishers for subscription-based content. Apple Inc. takes a 30% cut and Clayman says he has no problem with that. “We built our model around that cut,” he said, adding that “The Daily” is on the same revenue-share model as anyone else working with Apple. “We’re not locked into any one tablet or platform,” Clayman said. He expects Android tablets to grow and “we want to be on those devices.” But as for the different billing options that would be available to “The Daily” on the Android platform, Clayman said, “it’s a decision we have yet to make.” To him, tablets are “the pinnacle of what media consumption is.” Tablets are what “The Daily” is after. As for whether tablets can save old media or make new media more profitable, Clayman went back to his central theme. “We are building the plane while we are taking off,” he said. “We really wanted to start this from scratch. We don’t have any legacy anything.” What’s doing well for “The Daily” so far? News. “People are really interested in the news,” Clayman said. Of course, “The Daily” launched just as the turmoil in Egypt was getting underway and it had a journalist covering the story from the ground, which won the publication many immediate accolades. Lately, as it often does, the news cycle has taken a more celebrity-focused bent. To that end, Clayman said: “Thank you, Charlie Sheen.”

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