Will the Inquirer’s Android Tablet Gambit Work?

A high-tech trick to save daily news reporting

Two days ago, the people who operate the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com pitched us a deal. Buy a two-year subscription (10 bucks every four weeks) to apps that gets you the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com’s multimedia stuff, and you get an Android tablet (with the apps pre-loaded) for 99 smacks.

Total cost, when you include the subs: about $359— “a discount,” according to an Inquirer story announcing the deal, “of more than 60 percent off their combined retail price.” (If you subscribe for just a year, it’s a different deal. But you’ll have to read the details about that one yourself. Let’s just say the let’s-make-a-deal fine print may leave you with a mild case of vertigo.)

There was a coming out party for the Android, which looked like fun, judging by the video posted on philly.com. Everybody, it seemed, wanted to take Little Miss Tab for a spin on the floor.

Though the party peeps were all too polite to acknowledge the heaving elephant in the room, she was right there for all to see. The old girl was gasping her last, and to distract the crowd from noticing, the bosses at 400 N. Broad kept handing around Baby Tab.

But will the new bouncing baby be able to distract from the elephant’s long drawn out public viewing?

How many will want to hold Baby Tab?

No clue. I do know this: If I had been in the meeting when the N. Broad boys cooked this tab thing up, I would have suggested they cut a deal with the Phillies and offer new subscribers a free Cliff Lee autographed baseball instead.

Cliff Lee’s signature on a baseball.

An Android tablet?

Whatever. All we can do now is root for the tablet gambit to work.

It has to work.

Has to work, because—and this really shouldn’t have to be said—we need daily newspapering, daily content, daily reporting, call it what you like, but we need reporters and editors to tell us what’s going on every day.

Yes, the plea to save newsgathering operations has been made before, and frequently. But more than ever, with the economy in a tailspin, with the poor getting poorer (and growing in number), with the school system in disarray, with the presidential election of our lives fourteen months ahead…

Any need to go on?

Who else but the people who make their livings at 400 N. Broad can keep a close tab on things?

Tim Whitaker ([email protected]) is the executive director of Mighty Writers, a nonprofit program that inspires city kids to write.