Rupert Murdoch’s tablet tabloid gearing up for launch

Joe Pompeo
Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

As News Corp. staffs up its forthcoming tablet tabloid, the Daily, the names of editorial staffers recruited for the venture are leaking out left and right.

The latest is Hunter Walker, who will be working the Daily's gossip beat out of Los Angeles under former Page Six editor Richard Johnson, The Cutline has learned. He joins an increasingly high-profile masthead that suggests the Daily will be a force to be reckoned with.

Most recently, Walker had been filling in as a media blogger at the New York Observer. Before that, he had been covering TV for the Wrap through the end of October.

Walker declined to comment on his new gig. But in Friday's Women's Wear Daily, John Koblin writes, "Johnson's squad, currently setting up in the MySpace building, will attempt to bring a Page Six sensibility to Los Angeles. If the TMZ and Nikki Finke world is saturated, there will be intense coverage of cocktail parties, charity events, crime and politics."

Koblin has the most comprehensive account yet about the Daily's launch plans, including an anecdote about how the idea for the publication (which will be available exclusively on the iPad and other tablets) came to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch during a late-night bout of insomnia back in May.

Some other details Koblin has unearthed and/or confirmed:

• The newsroom will be "about 100 staffers strong."

• News Corp. will launch the Daily in beta around Christmas, with its public release sometime early in the new year. (Murdoch hinted at a late December launch in an Australian interview.)

• True to its name, the Daily will publish seven days a week, at a cost of 99 cents per week/$4.25 per month.

• The Daily offices are temporarily housed on the 26th floor in the News Corp.'s Sixth Avenue headquarters. The space, Koblin writes, "looks like a veritable construction zone." Later, the operation will move into its completed digs on the building's ninth floor.

• Other new hires include New America Foundation fellow Reihan Salam, ABC News producer Steve Alperin and Pete Picton, formerly a Web editor at the U.K. Sun.

Sources familiar with the project say the Daily is paying its talent very competitively and that the publication will make a slew of hires  over the next two weeks.

Other recently hired staffers include New York Post managing editor Jesse Angelo; former AOL News and New York Times editor Mike Nizza; New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones; former Page Sixer and Maxim editor Chris Wilson; freelance writer Elisabeth Eaves; New Yorker online news editor and former Politico reporter Avi Zenilman; former Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger managing editor Chris D'Amico; and blogger Molly Young.

(Photo of Murdoch testifying Sept. 30 on immigration issues on Capitol Hill: AP /Cliff Owen)