Sunday Business Post launches daily website

In a very smart move, the Sunday Business Post has re-launched its website as The Daily Business Post . It’s a nice clean design with a mix of news and comment.

The Daily Business Post

Updated between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday, the website is one part of a range of new digital services, which includes iPad and iPhone apps.

Articles from the Sunday Business Post print edition are still on the site, but have been put behind a paywall with a range of subscription options. SBP content is updated at 12am each Sunday.

Heading up this move is SBP Technology Editor Adrian Weckler who has been appointed to the position of Digital Editor.

I think it’s safe to say the Monday Business Post is a thing of the past.

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Irish Times offers free e-paper trial

The Irish Times is offering a free trial of its newspaper via e-paper. A yearly subscription to read the publication through this service costs E89, shorter subscription models are also available.

The free-trial period lasts until 24 March, according to IT journalist Shane Hegarty.

Personally I am not a huge fan of e-paper, mostly because of the navigation. I do use it when I need to, but couldn’t imagine consuming news in this manner on a regular basis.

However, I think it will find an audience with the Irish diaspora. While reading a newspaper on a website is great, I can imagine some miss seeing how the paper looks, reading stories in the order that they were placed etc.

The Irish Times has been on e-paper, via pressdisplay.com, for a while now and its archive stretches back to May 2004. I wonder what has prompted the free trial offer?

In other IT-related news, Deputy Managing Director Liam Kavanagh has been appointed Managing Director taking over from Maeve Donovan who announced her retirement last month.

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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.

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Irish Times website going free

Changing Times

From Monday The Irish Times’ website will be free to access, according to an article on page three of today’s newspaper written by the Editor Geraldine Kennedy.

The site is moving to irishtimes.com and ireland.com will become a separate, commercial site.

The new site will offer ‘richer content in the form of pictures, graphics, audio and video’. The article also talks about developing many multimedia features.

People who are paid-up subscribers to the site will get a full refund, or as Ms Kennedy notes could instead become members of the new Irish Times Crossword Club. In fact they can try out the new club before making a decision. Although with this economic downturn upon us I can imagine what most will do…cash is king after all!

You can read the story online here, I’d have put it up earlier but couldn’t find it free-to-view at first.

Going to digest this story a little this morning and write more on what they plan for their new website later on.

Election shows up the limitations of print

I think today it seemed (at least in Ireland) that newspapers took another step towards becoming a thing of the past.

Out of the three broadsheets in Ireland, one had declared Barack Obama the winner of the New Hampshire primary and two decided he was ‘poised’ for victory.

By the time people handed over their €1.70 to buy a copy of The Irish Times this morning they could have thrown the stories about the US presidential primaries into the bin, because most of the information was completely outdated. And the headline gambles on the three main broadsheets were all wrong.

Here’s how the broadsheets led with the story this morning:

-Quoting exit polls the Irish Examiner led with the headline: ‘Obama deals Clinton second blow in crucial poll’.

-Reporting on the basis of what people said on the way into polling stations the Irish Independent settled on this headline: ‘Poll surge leaves Obama poised for second victory’.

-Like the Irish Independent, the Irish Times used information from people on the way into vote and they went with: ‘Obama poised for second win in New Hampshire’.

The problem is print has a deadline and news often breaks late leaving you in an impossible position. Obviously this type of thing happens quite often, but it was just so blatant today.

I consume a lot of news online, but I also enjoy reading at least one newspaper a day…and haven’t given up on the medium yet (though today I came close). I think the only strategy newspapers can take is to pursue more analysis and in-depth reporting. The type of in-depth coverage you don’t want to read on a computer screen. They need to steer clear of the inverted pyramid-straight news story formula as much as possible because it is just not going to cut it for that much longer.

But the question remains: if you were an editor what would you do when you have to go to print and you know the news is going to break after the ink has dried?