Yesterday Bloomberg reported that The Daily was averaging just 120,000 readers per week, well short of Rupert Murdoch's 500,000 reader goal for the iPad newspaper. But we're told the situation is worse than that.

A source familiar with News Corp.'s numbers said that, on a day to day basis, The Daily typically engages just 10,000 paying subscribers. That's a joltingly low number even if, like us, you forecast The Daily's downfall 10 months ago. Unpaid readers apparently inflate the e-tabloid's numbers quite a bit; our mole scoffed at a recent report that fully two thirds of The Daily's readers pay out of pocket, as opposed to being on a trial or freebie sub, and said the real percentage is much lower. That would help explain the discrepancy between Bloomberg's report of 120,000 unique weekly visitors to the publication and the figure we heard of 10,000 daily subs. In contrast, the New York Times, a competitor to several Murdoch properties and a favorite whipping boy for the mogul, has accumulated 224,000 paying, online only subscribers (excluding people on freebie accounts sponsored by Lincoln).

As if the reader shortage wasn't headache enough for The Daily's well stocked newsroom, the paper's in house publishing platform is said to be a complete pain in the ass. Close to useless, even. But disgruntled staffers have reportedly found a distraction: A blossoming romance between managing editor Mike Nizza and arts editor Claire Howorth. Nothing scandalous, just more brazen and undisguised than some resident journalists would like. (Nizza couldn't be reached for comment.) Is newsroom smooching really so terrible, guys? Besides, newsroom hanky panky certainly sounds less demoralizing to gossip about than The Daily's business numbers. And best not to get too bogged down in those details anyway - from what we hear, it's clear Murdoch isn't letting the statistics phase him.

Update: Nizza and Howorth were apparently among the names on the lesser know sequel to the New York Observer's endless and endlessly corrected list of media power couples. We're also told Howorth goes not report to Nizza, and have changed our wording accordingly.

[Photo of Murdoch at The Daily launch in February via Getty Images]