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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 11, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

    Yes, we’ll soon be charging for the newspaper online. No, we’re not charging for content

    Hugh Linehan

    Next Thursday (March 18th) we will replace the Today’s Paper page on irishtimes.com with the epaper, which replicates online the experience of reading The Irish Times newspaper. For the next two weeks you can use the epaper on free trial.  In my humble opinion, it’s a pretty nifty service, particularly for those of our users whose primary goal is to find out what’s in the paper.
     So does this mean we’re now charging for content? No. Although we do already charge users for using certain services – archive and crosswords, for example – there is no change in the range of content which is free to access on the site.

     However, as has been noted here before, some of the world’s largest media organisations, including News International and the New York Times, are planning to charge for their content in the near future. Like the Skibbereen Eagle and the Tsar, we’ll continue to keep a beady eye on this and will make our own strategic decisions accordingly at the right time.
     What we are doing now, though, is charging for the experience of reading the newspaper. If you want to know exactly what articles were published and where in The Irish Times on a given day, the epaper provides that service (at, as we like to say, a very reasonable price).

     This forms part of a broader strategy on our part to differentiate between the newspaper and the site. You can see that strategy in developments like the Life, Culture and Society sections launched last year, where we moved away from replicating the sections and supplements of the newspaper towards a thematic grouping of content more suitable for online users. It makes more sense for the user, and it also serves to get away from any perception that irishtimes.com is simply ‘The Irish Times on the web – for free’.

    • C Harris says:

      So to much hulabuloo u launch the ‘Free Irish Times online!’ a few months ago, and then, meekly, you decide to revert back to paying again.

      I was pretty p****ed off to be honest – just the way I logged in for a read and realised I had to pay. Slyly done!

      Ok, ur initial strategy obviously backfired, but I don’t think this shifting and changing is doing ur credibility/ reputation any good.

    • Brian Lillis says:

      Mnnnnn….people can get annoyed when freebies are confusingly rearranged to try to extract money. I suspect Linehan’s heart is not in this – but like all newspapermen he is facing an appaling vista – so I feel some sympathy. I will be amazed if it works out in financial terms. I think most IT writers are mediocre – the exceptions being Charlie Fell, Laura Marlowe, Michael Casey, Garret Fitzgerald. But would I pay to read them? Maybe 5c a piece if you could find a way to handle micro-payments.

    • Eddie Collins says:

      Nah, not for me, was good while it lasted. Slàn

    • minutiae matter says:

      @52
      What is Mnnnnn… please?
      Did you mean Hmmmmm …?
      @ 53
      Slàn????? Surely you mean SLÁN
      This is a grave mistake. French grave, Irish fada.

    • Tom (Sydney) says:

      Thanks for the ‘free’ read – i’m off to the ‘Indo’ – Good luck with the ‘subscription’ editions…!!

    • Luxman says:

      I live abroad and visit the IT website every day to keep up with what’s happening at home. Just tried the epaper for the first time. It’s nice if you have lots of time and a big computer screen, but found it quite frustrating due to misclicks, difficulty of navigation on a small laptop screen and the time it takes for pages to download, articles to enlarge etc. My old habit was to take 10 minutes on a weekday morning in the office to scan through the “today’s paper” section and see if there was anything new and interesting in that day’s edition. Looks to me like it would take about 30mins just to scan through the epaper version. Might be nice to do at the weekend but won’t have time for that on an average weekday morning. Will miss the “today’s paper” section.

    • Seán B says:

      I didn’t get a chance to get to the shops to buy the newspaper yesterday, as I usually do, and so I tried to read this epaper crap. It’s still stuck on Friday (today is Sunday) and the controls are pure clunky and not at all suited to how you would read on the web. Wait to piss off your readership.

      This new venture shows a complete lack of understanding of how the internet works. By restricting content, the decline in the readership is exponential, the extra revenues will be marginal compared to how much advertising revenues will be able to command when advertisers realise that the internet is the primary place people go for their news nowadays, and you annoy those that both buy your newspaper regularly and use your website consistently.

      I fell that this venture is a backward step and is ultimately doomed. If you want more revenue tell your advertisers that you are charging more.

    • Landscape Ann says:

      I liked the “today’s paper” presentation. It was easy to read and I logical the way it linked back to the place on the page from where you last clicked.
      In contrast, I have a total aversion to your new e-version – portrait newspaper into landscape laptop just won’t fit! I won’t be reading it. And I predict that you will lose readers as a result.
      The rest of your website is fantastic, keep it up and drop the epaper idea.

      p.s. I seem to remember the early days of Ireland.com when one had to subscribe and pay for reading the news – it didn’t work then, why would it work now?

    • Doug says:

      Any chance of giving us back a “today’s paper” section for subscribers? It’s very difficult to use the epaper on a netbook or small laptop, also having a browse through the today’s paper section was a lot more “office friendly” than the new e-paper format! The e-paper is nifty, but only with a very large screen. Also there’s no weekend edition?

    • paddy griffin says:

      Echoing the comments of Maureen (20) and C Haris (51). I used to pay the online subscription, but IT stopped this sometime last year. I don’t recall that I got a refund of the ‘unused’ subscription balance. Will that be available to try out the new paid service without additional cost?

    • Aindreas says:

      I’ll just say it: from the point of view of usability and aesthetics, that e-paper is *atrociously* designed – kitchen sink right click menus, ungainly navigation, way too much chrome. hard to get a hold of as a user even on a high resolution 15″ laptop..

      it’s just godawful. you couldn’t expect anyone to pay for that. try the NY times reader maybe. Anything but what’s going on there.

    • Richard says:

      I think people are missing the point, I too don’t like the ePaper, it would only be of use to me if I wanted to see the ads in the IT or to see the back page. But with a little but of re-adjustment, its still possible to see all the content. News\Ireland has Irish news from todays paper, News\World world news, etc etc..

      It’ll probably only be a matter of time before a 3rd party sets up a “todays’s paper” page with all the links on the one page again.

      I’ll still be reading the IT, but agree with other posters, ePaper is retrograde step, too heavy and clunky, I don’t want to be reading pdf documents in a browser!

    • Anthony says:

      Agree with most of the comments here.

      I paid the subscription years ago, when it was offered. I wouldn’t mind too much paying it again – for a news site that is easy to navigate and find the news stories of the day, not mixed up with previous day’s stories.

      If the site remains like it is, I will not pay a cent. Before Paddy’s day I spent all my lunch reading the Irish times online, now I spend about 15 minutes. It’s just too messy.

    • Rocker says:

      Newspaper owners have dealt with the internet very poorly in general. Like how can they be surprised if sales are falling when they’re giving away their product for free on the internet? If people can get something for free rather than paying for it, it’s a bit of a no brainer.
      I doubt many will purchase this new service either, they’ll just read what’s available for free.

    • Michael says:

      Slan Leat —-

    • keithcargill says:

      a retrograde step charging for archives as a regular dailyreader i often wish to refer back sometimes 10 or 20 years or even longer as a buyer off and on since the 1970′s to refresh memory.

    • wondering alice says:

      Is it too early for a little “traffic” update from Mechanical Turk on how the e-paper is doing — or is he stuck in a traffic jam!

    • Greg says:

      ‘Todays paper’-was simple to use and free but I can’t see people paying to manipulate such an unwieldy product as the e-paper. Only people abroad and techno snobs at home who love having a complicated relationship with their laptop maybe. Much easier just to buy the print version.

      By the way Hugh it’s the first time I’ve seen the word ‘nifty’ in the Irish Times.

    • joehas says:

      I’m the same as Anthony in that I paid the subscription and would pay it again for a “Todays Paper” type experience.

      I used to read it every day on my blackberry while waiting for my train and the text only experience worked very well.

      Thank you for the link to the Indo, a paper which I never previously read, but its my only choice to get Irish news.
      http://www.independent.ie/day-in-page/

      Also (and again like Anthony) If the site remains like it is, I will not pay a cent. I’ve already stopped reading the Examiner as their online product is similarly confusing.

      All that happens is that I get out of the habit or reading newspapers at a specific time in the day and end up not visiting you at all.

      Take a look at this format, which while not perfect you can see what they are trying to do
      http://www.netvibes.com/elpais

      I want Todays Paper + subscription or a Net Vibes type aggregator experience. But the epaper thing is rubbish.

    • kynos says:

      I’ve just subbed up a month’s worth of access. This is an excellent service I can tell already. The very fact you can get all the images normally only available in the dead tree version and it’s in that broadsheet format that means the eye can course up and down and across and diagonally, surfing in a way that can never be done on your traditional site but, which I missed all those years I had to rely on same (invaluable) traditional site because the I.T. isn’t sold in Asia. Excellent effort from what I’ve seen so far. Contents seems v. good and like the way you can either read the orig. newsprint layout or click to an article to bring it up in a more webby version. Good luck with this I’ve a feeling I’ll be taking out a year’s sub presently.


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