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August 2005
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October 2005

Communicating with Diaspora

THE IRISH TIMES KNEW it would reach a wide swath of the Irish diaspora when it set up its online news service in the mid-90s. The Times-Picayune staff knows that many local flood victims will resettle permanently in other parts of the U.S. The T-P website ( will reach that New Orleans diaspora long term, when the print edition will not. People always keep their ties to their homeland even after generations of living in another culture. That's one reason why I always thought I was simply "returning to" Ireland instead of "moving to" Ireland. Although the things I discovered on the ground differ from the illusion my grandmother painted of her family home in County Clare.

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Chill Pill for Eddie Hobbs

LIAM FAY¹ has watched the "Rip Off Ireland" series and he has a chill pill for MC Eddie Hobbs. As Fay sees it, Hobbs

appears all too comfortable in the self-styled role of people's champion and seems to have developed the new-found celebrity messiah's belief that everythig he says shoild be revised upwards in terms of sparkle and insight.

Unfortunately the show's script--written by Hobbs with producers Cilian Fennell and Rachael Moriarty--simply isn't funny, clever or savage enough to justify such arrogant posturing.

Rip-Off Republic is every bit as damaging to the governent as many of its members suspect it to be. However, it's the replays of the weasel words and empty promises of ministers that land the most devastating blows, rather than the presenter's naff quips or lame japes,

In more than one episode, Hobbs misses his chance to clearly suggest what his audience should as an action step. While he may have a million people talking about his show, its impact is as transient as a Kit-Kat commercial,

¹Liam Fay -- "Inflation strikes again" in "Culture" with The Sunday Times, September 4, 2005.


Charging for online access

HOW MUCH NEWSPAPERS should charge for online access is an on-going question at conferences everywhere. With the rise of online advertising, there's an argument that access should cost nothing.

An academic paper by University of Chicago economist Matthew Gentzkow deserves careful consideration. The research follows from the Scarborough Research surveys of consumers in the Washington, D.C., area compiled between 2000-2003. His conclusions:

  • As of 2003, the availability of reduced the Post's daily readership (not circulation) by about 29,000 people -- out of 1.8 million daily readers.
  • The circulation loss would have reduced print edition profits by about $6 million a year.
  • Taking into account the financial performance of the website, the total impact of adding an online edition was to lower the Post's profits by $20 million per year.
  • The Washington Post Co.'s newspaper division generated less than $52m in profits from operations in 2003.

This analysis suggests that through 2003, the Washington Post should have charged $4-$6/month for access to the website because that price that would have prevented the print circulation erosion.

Since 2003, however, increases in online advertising revenues would have changed the picture -- reducing the website's net impact on the company's 2004 profits from $20 million to $2 million. This suggests that for the website, "a zero price is probably not far from the long-run optimum," Gentzkow writes.

Rich Gordon -- "Economist: Online Paper Cuts Print Readership, Profits -- But Not Much"


Disaster Publishing

NEWSPAPERS CONSIDER IT a badge of honour to keep publishing, regardless of the conditions outside. When earthquake tremors last hit the Bay Area of California in 1989, the San Francisco Chronicle bought a back-up generator for the art department's Macintosh computers, produced an abbreviated print edition, and printed that in another city.

Today, the New Orleans Times-Picayune couldn't publish print editions so they're making the daily paper as a PDF.

via Steve Outing