The Irish Farmers Journal will from next week be printed with unique codes that give readers full access to its website. The initiative, the first of its kind among Irish publishers, is designed to boost the audience for the title's expanded digital coverage – without compromising sales of the weekly newspaper.
When buyers of the Thursday paper register their unique code at farmersjournal.ie, they gain full access to the site until 9pm the following Wednesday. A new code is then published in the next print edition.
"The Irish Farmers Journal has always pushed our readers to innovate, change and adapt to the latest technologies," said editor and chief executive Justin McCarthy.
The publishing company was no different, he said: “We are committed to driving the digital agenda among the farming community.”
The Irish Farmers Journal has contacted some 40,000 email subscribers inviting them to take part in a trial this week ahead of the official launch of scheme next Thursday.
Digital specialist reporters
Staff numbers at the company have increased in recent times by 12 to 91. The team of digital specialist reporters has been expanded and the company expects to publish 35 per cent more digital content this year, with farming news, analysis and advice added to the site from 7am to 11pm each day.
It has also added briefing emails, podcasts and videos and has begun to use smartphone apps SnapChat and WhatsApp to communicate with readers.
Since December 2013, farmersjournal.ie has operated a metered paywall, which allows browsers to access some content for free. Subscription prices for access to the entire site begin at €2.29 a week. It has 1,000 paying subscribers on any given week and about 180,000 monthly unique visitors.
“This model has allowed us to continue to invest in a team of agricultural specialists with a deep knowledge and understanding of the sector. It has proved successful for our readers who want to consume all their content online,” the publisher said.
However, the codes system will also allow “loyal newspaper customers” to access its full range of content without having to pay for it twice.
Although sales of print newspapers have fallen sharply in Ireland over the past nine years, the circulation of the Irish Farmers Journal grew for much of that period and remains higher than it was in 2006.
The newspaper, which is published by the Agricultural Trust and has a cover price of €2.90, had a print circulation of 69,050 in the first half of 2015.