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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 14, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

    What would you do to make The Irish Times better?

    Hugh Linehan

    As I said at the outset, I hope to use this blog to get the views of you, the user, on what we can do to improve The Irish Times. As time goes on, I hope we can discuss specific subjects, different sections of the site, ease of use, making content better, etc. But what the hell, why not just throw it open to the floor?

    If there was one thing you’d like to see done to improve what we do, what would it be? All suggestions will be received in good faith, and taken seriously (unless they’re obviously unserious, in which case they’ll be taken in that spirit too). Sarcasm is acceptable, wit is preferred, but I do honestly want to hear what you’d like to see us do better.

    By the way, those fond of brevity can get me on Twitter: @hlinehan

    • mike says:

      Stephen,

      I agree with much of what you have posted re the IT.

      However, i wish to opine that the Saturday Thinking (allegedly) Anew column coupled with the regular Church Notes is somehat more than being reverential to “all” religions.

      It is rather the promotion and advertisement of one religion. I find it rather offensive to be fed simply the Catholic/Christian line every Saturday, and what’s even worse, for it to be presented on the Editorial And Letters page. The rationale for this policy – which has been in existence for at least the last two decades I believe – is somewhat incomprehensible. It is yet another instance of how parochial and narrow minded the IT is, and this policy is out of touch with the fact that in this country there are many others who are of another religion or none.

    • David says:

      I feel the front page is far too long, and the layout not uniform enough giving a messy and scattered feel.

      I’d like to see the headlines on the frontpage and on the Most Read/emailed etc listing limited to one line i.e. either truncated or shortened to provide a cleaner feel to the site.

    • Eureka says:

      “How about stop treating freelancers like pond scum.”

      That goes for would-be contributors as well. When you get a pitch, a response would be appreciated. A simple ‘no thank you’ via email will do.

    • Update good ideas submitted to the print edition as Letters to the Editor, such as the one for Ireland’s National Music Sculpture Park, to be located in the Iveagh Gardens.

      Just a paragraph would ensure further interest would be encouraged.

    • Derek Ryan says:

      “How about stop treating freelancers like pond scum.”

      I agree with Eureka and the original poster. There’s no excuse for not responding to pitches with a simple “no thank you.” It’s basic manners and any claims about the volume of emails received by editors are laughable. Three words “no thank you”, try typing them.

    • sandy hazel says:

      Where’s is the media coverage? Our paper of record rarely seems to report on the state of our media , other than the usual board room battles and marketing.
      ….also sad to say that the (expensive full page) photos of Domni Kemp’s food tend to look fairly unappetising, it’s the scale and colour quality makes them look yuk……bring back Kevin Meyers…and give Miriam Lord extra space and a pay rise…er ..that’s it.

    • FBC says:

      For starters, being willing to discuss (and reply to ) issues of bias in newspapers such as the Irish Times, which claims to be as objective as is reasonably possible. And discuss the issue in more prominent places than obscure corners of the website. Agenda’s are promoted by constant exposure and endless repetition – including the various IT agendas. Thus one must conclude that the issue of it’s own bias (be it deliberate policy or the unconscious product of our conditioning) isn’t actually on the IT agenda. If it was, we’d be reading regular articles about it in prominent places. But we are not.

    • John Nash says:

      For a start, allow access to crosswords to non-subscribers please! And make it so that only the headline is the link to a story. My browser is not always in the forefront; clicking on the page (to change the focus) brings me through to the story I clicked; most annoying! I’d prefer if not all the text on the front page was hyperlinked.

      John Nash

    • Hugh Linehan says:

      Sandy@156. Agree with you about coverage of media issues. As I said in a post about Marian Finucane’s remuneration last week, coverage of media issues in Ireland is patchy, partial and too often restricted to the business pages.

      FBC@157. Surely one of the great improvements in public discourse has been the power which new technology gives to citizens and consumers to hold power to account? And I include the media in that. Yes, this may be ‘an obscure corner of the website’, but as I said at the outset (less than a week ago), I hope it can become a forum for frank debate on how The Irish Times can improve and develop. And, yes, also to discuss the often unspoken or concealed or unconscious assumptions and agendas which underpin the activities of any media organisation.
      Not sure whether many media organisations are very good at interrogating their own ideological assumptions, though. Strikes me that that’s a job better undertaken by the engaged reader. The challenge for us in turn is to engage with that process in a meaningful way.

    • Jonathan says:

      A few other posters have mentioned the ‘Today’s Paper’ function – this is how I use the site, because I want to be sure that I don’t miss anything. It can be a very annoying experience, but it can be easily fixed.

      For news articles the page is ok – the headlines at least give some indication of what the article is about. But for features, sports and supplements the subject is a mystery until the link is clicked on.

      Just add a subhead, standfirst or hover-over giving more information than the simple headline. A byline would be nice.

      To my mind, this is the only thing badly wrong with irishtimes.com. But it’s a serious one, and can be fixed in five minutes.

      Thanks!

    • Patrick Kinsella says:

      Stephen wrote: “Too conservative opinion wise, Charles Krauthammer and Breda O’Brien in particular are offensive a lot of the time.”

      Yes, and how about that Sarah Carey, eh? Most of the new columnists are either a) deadly boring or b) well to the right of the typical reader (and the needs of these times).

      Stephen is also right about the need to breathe fire into the leaders.

    • paddy says:

      Maybe get rid of or cut down on some of the fluffier stuff – does anyone really want to hear about fiona mccann’s or roisin ingle’s private lives?
      maybe get ingle to write on more serious issues – she’s a good writer.
      also, a column about the media would be great (not a TV/radio review, although fanin is great). didn;t a guy called eddie holt do something like this a while back?

      thanks

    • Robespierre says:

      Ireland divided on geographic rather than ideological grounds so we don’t the whole legacy of a London Times vs. Manchester Guardian, Masses vs. the Classes thing going on.

      That gives us the opportunity to present a broad range of views in the opinion pages. I always found Krauthammer interesting. He is a serious academic who has written for the completely open minded Foreign Affairs periodical – the most prestigious international journal in the world. The last Irish person to write for FA was Eoin McNeill on the Irish question in the mid 1920′s.

      He is a heavyweight and an interesting contributor although I am no-neocon only a complete eejit would want to ignore something they do not like or perhaps not fully understand – no matter how loathsome they may find it.

      Much broader contributions including bringing across or inviting back some of your previous independently minded heavyweights that I used to bend over backwards to read like Jim Power would be great.

      What about moving a bit more quickly by having a rotating by invitation column where you have a question of the month and invite guests to take a stab at it. Burning questions like innovation, unemployment, emigration where guest writers right from inside the experience rather than from the point of view of a medium.

      I notice you have adopted some of Prospect Magazine’s ideas but there is almost no web only content. Prospect have roundtables frequently – the one some time ago with Soros and a number of other financial geniuses remains the best thing I have seen on the origins of the financial crisis.

      I actually quite like Sarah Carey and think some of her columns are great – she has relatively moderate views, which are very much like those of many people I know. You have diversified your contributions a lot in the last two years. Elaine Byrne is clearly a rising star and while she largely has prismatic columns centred on low standards in high places, she writes well and clearly.

      I do think that writers with political affiliations should have a tagline at the bottom of their columns and I have always felt it slightly unethical that FOT should have no Labour party note at the bottom. Sarah has been pretty public on her family background and I can only assume from some the feature pieces that Elaine Byrne has done that she also has some connection with Fine Gael. Noel Whelan and Garrett Fitzgerald don’t need the riders as much but should still have them.

      This is of particular importance when a columnist is attacking ideologies of other parties on a regular basis.

      I still think that Paul Gillespie’s column is the best in the paper. I would put it up there with the Lex column, Paul Krugman and Badgehot in the Economist for my required weekly reading.

    • Vivek says:

      used to love the slideshow of images from the day but now it takes too long to get through while it loads.

      Also, I miss the free crosswords!

      Vivek

    • steve white says:

      @hlinehan carey isn’t a a female columnist she’s a regressive one, breda too mostly, hide behind her gender if you wish, i want journalists who have to pitch to get an article in each week not columnists

    • Keith Kennedy says:

      I would like to see more north side Dublin properties featured in the property section. Am I missing something or is there another property section for north side homes on a different day?

      Rgds,
      Keith

    • Darek says:

      There are so many commnts and so little reaction. I wish Irish Times to react quicker on readers comments; Here is what else you can do:

      1. create comment feature to every article
      2. create rating feature for every article
      3. create own blog on your websites

    • kynos says:

      Keep it free and the comments too and you’ll not improve IT further in my lifetime. 90% of which I sometimes feel I spend round this place.

    • kynos says:

      How is it like theage.au is it printing the same articles?

    • Michael Egan says:

      It’s been over a month since you asked for reader input.

      What have you done?

    • steve white says:

      how about inline hyperlinks in your articles online, i know so 1990′s !

    • Jon says:

      I’m in (partial) agreement with comment 143 above: go tabloid, and separate out sport!


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