‘Irish Independent’ confirms plan to charge for online access

Editor Stephen Rae says ‘expensive’ journalism must be paid for

Independent House: The company plans to introduce metering for its website.

Independent House: The company plans to introduce metering for its website.

Fri, Apr 26, 2013, 09:12

The Irish Independent will introduce a metered paywall on its website “quite soon”, according to the title’s editor, Stephen Rae.

Rae, who was appointed to the role last September, told the Public Relations Institute of Ireland’s annual conference in Dublin that it was “no secret” that Independent News and Media was closely considering a “leaky” paywall on its morning title, following the redesign of Independent.ie in February. “Good journalism is expensive,” he said.

The Irish Independent calls itself “a news organisation” rather than a newspaper and has moved to deliver news in a manner that is “platform-neutral”, Rae said. Multimedia “mobile” journalists at the company are called “mojos”, he added.

‘Squeaky bum time’
Rae described the decision to stop publishing the broadsheet edition of the Irish Independent in December and continue with the compact format alone as “squeaky bum time, in a sense”. A second “soft” redesign of the newspaper is in the pipeline.

Independent News and Media publishes its full-year earnings for 2012 this morning. The threat of editorial cutbacks has lingered over its news titles in recent times, as the indebted group has continued to cut costs and engage in refinancing talks with its lenders. The company is using the proceeds from the €170 million sale of its newspaper publishing business in South Africa to repay a chunk of its €400 million-plus debt.

Also addressing the conference, Kevin Bakhurst, RTÉ managing director of news and current affairs, said the broadcaster had not “mothballed” investigative journalism, and that “two or three” reports from its new investigations unit would be broadcast in the coming months.

RTÉ had “failed badly” on the A Mission to Prey libel and the “flawed” presidential debate, he said, but had learned from its mistakes. A report uncovering dodgy practices in the charity sector, which was shown as part of last night’s Prime Time , had been due to be broadcast a week earlier, but was postponed because there were “ a couple of points” that he and other RTÉ executives “were not happy about”.

Mr Bakhurst, who joined RTÉ last September from the BBC, thanked his predecessor, Ed Mulhall, for his support.

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