As one of the richest dogs in America, there are very few things that get me down. “Live every day like it’s actually seven days in human years” is my motto, so I try not to let the little stuff bother me. Someone forgot to put out beef tartare for my supper? That’s fine. Constantly being overshadowed by that little Maltese ass-licker Trouble until he “mysteriously” died? Doesn’t bother me in the least. Miss Charlie Brown of South Dakota does not sweat the small stuff, is what I’m saying.
But I was absolutely devastated to find out that Rupert Murdoch’s iPaw publication, The Daily, was shuttering its … pages? I don’t know if that’s the right word. Maybe closing its “digital doors?” No … that sounds like something Jeff Jarvis’s pooch would say.
Anyway, The Daily was done, at least the version that had rocketed me to stardom thanks to a series of seemingly random events: the leaking of an internal memo from EIC Jesse Angelo demanding, “find me the oldest dog in America, or the richest man in South Dakota,” the subsequent challenge by Stephen Colbert to find “the richest dog in South Dakota,” and The Daily’s seemingly bottomless coffers, which allowed a reporter and a photographer to fly all the way out to meet my family and me last year.
For that, I will be forever in The Daily’s debt. Well, not literally. I could probably buy and sell that money-suck of an app a million times over at this point. Let’s do the math: Rupert Murdoch’s infamous anti-Midas touch when it comes to all things confusing and electronic (and hey, buddy, I hear you on that … I’m still scared of the sentient Roomba) was losing $30 million a year. I’m worth $130 million. And in English cocker spaniel years, I’ll be a dead dog before I run out of cash. Honestly, I’m not using all these dollar bills to buy a solid gold canine grille that reads “Hot Bitch.” The money is just sitting there.
So at this point, Mr. Murdoch, I’d like to formally make a proposal to purchase The Daily brand.
Because here’s the thing: I recognize quality content when I see it. Like Zach Baron’s gonzo journey to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is the first story I remember reading in The Daily. (Yes, we pooches can read. And we send grammatically correct texts to each other when you aren’t looking, which at this point puts us leagues ahead of most human tweens.)
Or how about Michelle Ruiz’s profile of the gay couple who pampered their baby doll in a way that makes my owner’s treatment of me look perfectly sane? So creepy. It really hit the sweet spot between “totally fascinating/disturbing” and “kind of adorable.” In fact, that could have been The Daily’s motto. Also, The Daily was just plain useful. I never knew how dehydrated my owner was until I looked at that Pantone color chart and compared it to the water I was drinking out of the toilet.
Your writers and editors weren’t the problem, Mr. Murdoch. They were some of the most daring, inventive journalists I’ve seen in all my years (the exact number of which your publication was kind enough not to print). They pioneered drone journalism! Sometimes one got the sense that these brave men and women would do anything for a great story, even if it meant sacrificing their parents’ untroubled slumber. You don’t know how many times I have personally felt worried for vlogger Justin Rocket Silverman’s safety and well-being. The tasering episode. The one where he embedded with female paintball aficionados who took the game a little too seriously. Oh, and that time he let the Navy sic their attack dogs on him. Anyone who spends his days playing with tiger cubs and his nights with swing-state swingers should be given the Anderson Cooper Medal of WTF-ness. It was indicative of the whole site’s ethos … tracking down the most dangerous/darling trend stories ever. (Though I hope Mr. Silverman keeps a bottle of Purell on hand at all times.)
You know, at times, The Daily seemed less like a News Corp. entity than a collage of the more intellectually stimulating reading material out there. David Knowles’s investigation into the men behind pink slime? Good stuff. And Benjamin Carlson’s look into Delphian, the $42k boarding school for the children of Scientologists, could have been written by a 2010 Tony Ortega. Do you see Emma Barker’s profile of fashion’s fallen star, Luis Estevez? That would have incited a bidding war between Vogue, The New Yorker and WWD, had it been freelance.
Then there were the straight-out amazing Vice-meets-The Atlantic long-reads, like the brilliant pieces on reclusive Trapper Keeper artist Lisa Frank, the dirty cartel of Tide Detergent snatchers, the abuse of mug shots by our own criminal justice system, and the where-are-they-now about the Nazi teeny-boppers turned hippie stoners.
Not to mention Monday’s amazing front-page jailhouse interview with the Amish bishop who’s behind bars for unsolicited beard-snipping. Where do you guys even come up with this stuff?
But here’s the thing, Rupert: with all these amazing stories, you were so protective of your content that you made it impossible for most people to even read it! I mean, I’m a dog, and even I know that an Internet newspaper needs to have an RSS feed. Did you somehow think that if you only allowed readers to access stories via a URL, and just forgot about having a landing site, you’d somehow be able to thwart those pesky teens intent on freeing all the precious words on the web? SOPA failed, you’re closing the first iPad paper because of your own hacking scandal, and you’re blocking your stories on Google News?
All I can say is: woof.
So Rupert, let’s make a deal: I’ve got some great ideas for reinventing the paper, and I’ll even take MySpace off your hands as a show of good faith.
And if you don’t want to do business with a dog, I’ll just hire all these talented writers myself for my own paper. Sorry, I don’t see your noncompete extending to The South Dakota Doggie Daily.
I know you gave it your best shot, but that dog just didn’t bark. Who do you think the world will love more: a tired old dog that can’t learn new tricks, or moi?
Miss Charlie Brown of South Dakota
P.S. I’m the second richest dog in America, by the way. No need for the arbitrary “South Dakota” title. Once Gunther IV goes to that great fire hydrant in the sky, you better watch your back. Who let the dogs out, Rupert? You did.
Follow Drew Grant via RSS.