Banter on Publishing 2020 – The Podcast

Last month, I joined Hugh Linehan (The Irish Times), Michael McDermott (Le Cool Dublin) and John Ryan (Broadsheet.ie) for a very lively panel discussion, chaired by Jim Carroll (The Irish Times/On The Record) on where the media and news industry might be in ten years.

We discussed a broad range of topics, if you have a spare couple of hours – check out the podcast here.

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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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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.

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

(DOI: RTE is my employer)