Donovan to step down as MD at The Irish Times

It was confirmed on Friday evening that Maeve Donovan, 55, is to step down as Managing Director at The Irish Times after eight years in the role.

Deputy Managing Director Liam Kavanagh has been tipped as a front runner to succeed Ms Donovan in the role, according to the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner.

Ms Donovan, who worked at the organisation for more than three decades, said now was a good time for a successor to lead the organisation through the next ‘inevitable wave of change’, according to a story in The Irish Times, which added that she had not envisaged staying in the role past 2010.

During Ms Donovan’s time as MD, The Irish Times made a number of investments and interesting decisions as highlighted by Laura Noonan in the Irish Independent today:

Ms Donovan’s tenure as managing director began with a substantial re-organisation of the core newspaper business, but she is best known for the “investment and diversification” strategy pursued more recently.

Under that strategy, ‘The Irish Times’ spent €50m on property website myhome.ie at the peak of the boom and also bought substantial stakes in ‘The Gloss’ magazine, Dublin freesheet ‘Metro’ and multi-city radio station 4fm.

Those joint ventures and subsidiaries triggered more than €26m of losses in 2008 and have been slammed by the newspaper’s own journalists, who last year urged their company to “urgently review the flawed investment and diversification strategy”.

Asked if she regretted any of the investments, Ms Donovan replied: “Oh God, no.”

I wonder how the next MD is going to handle the challenges The Irish Times, like all newspapers, faces in relation to digital change. Will it follow the NYT and Murdoch with online pay models or continue like the Guardian and stay free?  It’s a difficult time for anyone to take over when surely the first task is to pull back last year’s estimated cash losses of between €1o to €11m. It’ll be interesting to watch.

B

RTÉ launches News Now app

Image: www.RTE.ie

RTÉ has recently launched the News Now app for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

News Now is an apt description for this. If you click on ‘Top Stories’ it  delivers the latest RTÉ News, Sport and Entertainment stories from RTÉ.ie using a simple and readable layout.

As well as text stories, the app shows the latest live RTÉ News TV bulletins, weather, stocks and currencies through the ‘Watch Live’ function. You can also watch the Morning Ireland webcam (with radio stream) from 7am – a great accompaniament for the commute (not with the iPod touch though!).

You can download the app for free from the iTunes store here

More details from RTÉ about the app here

(DOI: RTÉ is my employer)

Newstalk makes a pre-Budget statement

The editorial team at Newstalk has made a statement about Budget 2010, which was broadcast today:

Ireland is at an unprecedented economic and social crossroad. The country appears divided. The road ahead seems unbearably bleak. But here at Newstalk we believe that Ireland has a proud tradition of overcoming, of achieving, of finding a way. We believe this is a country worth fighting for.

Charm, culture, energy and engagement have always been part of who we are, but so too have ambition, determination and achievement. We need to lean on these talents to re-position our country. Old solutions will not solve new problems. We need to be imaginative, decisive.

Every one of us must be prepared to accept the challenges that constrained economic circumstances impose…..

Read or listen to the full Newstalk statement here.

B

New mobile site for The Irish Times

For people who like news on the go, The Irish Times has launched a new mobile site m.irishtimes.com*

The IT’s Hugh Linehan has the details over a Mechanical Turk:

We’ve decided to launch a device-neutral site which will render well on iPhones, BlackBerries, Nokias and everything else. It has breaking news, business and sport stories, and selected content from the newspaper. Some other popular functions, such as Most Read stories and Weather, are also included.

Full post from him here.

B

*Of course you can always use RTE’s mobile news and sports site: m.rte.ie 😉

(DOI: RTE is my employer)

The Humble Bee – a multimedia series

Photo by Blathnaid Healy

I was lucky enough to be one of the journalists who received funding from the Simon Cumbers Media Challenge Fund for a reporting project this year.

A few weeks ago I traveled to Kenya and Uganda. Going by road from Nairobi to Entebbe I reported on people who keep bees for a series of stories focused on food security.

I traveled alone with a backpack full of equipment: video camera, digital camera and lenses, audio recorder, plenty of tapes and leads and of course paper and pen. The aim was to come back with a multimedia project similar to a series I also did for RTE called Global Classroom.

Today, the first part of the series, The Humble Bee, went live on RTE.ie. It focuses on beekeeping as a means of improving food security on a macro and micro level. It looks at a family who keeps bees to make an income and a farmer who uses bees to improve pollination on his farm. There are videos and photos (more hopefully on the way) and an accompanying radio report, which was broadcast on RTE Radio One on World Report.

The rest of the series will look at other aspects of bee keeping in east Africa including women who keep bees, the environmental impact and the challenges some people face.

This has been a wonderful and challenging series to work on – I hope you enjoy it.

Check it out here
-B