Project Alesia, Rupert Murdoch’s ambitious plan to construct a digital newsstand out of News Corp. properties, has been spiked, a source told Reuters. The service, had it endured, would have offered a subscription package that users could access on devices such as an iPad, or their cellphone. The source said News Corp. was seeking a “critical mass” of publishers interested in collaborating on the project, and was unable to do so.
The decision will result in the reassignment of 100 staffers at Murdoch-owned publications in London, and Reuters said a similar displacement will occur in New York.
With the announcement of the project’s failure, there’s delicious irony to be found in its name. The Battle of Alesia, fought between the Romans and the Gauls in 52 B.C., was a brilliant and celebrated victory for Julius Caesar — the emperor’s army was outnumbered four-to-one by the opposing forces. The win was a turning point for Rome in the Gallic Wars, and the name “Alesia” invokes majestic victory in the world of antiquity. Too bad Murdoch — who here must have pegged himself as Caesar — couldn’t overcome the opposition, and now must surely rue the day he flexed his hubris.