'The Irish Times' free online at irishtimes.com

THE IRISH TIMES publishes under its own title online from this morning with the launch of a new site for the newspaper, www

THE IRISH TIMESpublishes under its own title online from this morning with the launch of a new site for the newspaper, www.irishtimes.com. Access to the site is free.

The redesigned www.irishtimes.comaims to reflect the changing demands of online readers. The simplified and improved structure of the site is intended to keep pace with internet-user demand by helping readers find what they want quickly. The new site is planned to bring readers easily from one story to another on related topics, or related websites, and it will develop many multimedia features.

The restoration of The Irish Timestitle online is designed to make the newspaper the dominant media website in Ireland in the 21st century. The change from a subscription model to a free newspaper on irishtimes.com is a further instalment in the biggest editorial development programme in the history of the newspaper, embarked upon last February with the redesign and modernisation of The Irish Timesand the launch of new supplements.

The move to a free Irish Timeson the web follows in the recent footsteps of many leading newspaper titles in the world today, among them the New York Timesand the Los Angeles Times.


Those people who have subscribed to The Irish Timeson www.ireland.comwill be offered a full refund for the remainder of their subscription period.

If they prefer, they can join the new Irish TimesCrossword Club - to be introduced today - and access our digital archive dating back to the foundation of the newspaper in 1859, for the same period. To help them decide, all subscribers will be given one month's free access to both of these services. Subscribers will receive a personal e-mail outlining these options.

The changes mark the start of an exciting programme of online development which, over the coming months, will see the irishtimes.com site enhanced with richer content in the form of pictures, graphics, audio and video.

We will be developing content in areas of particular interest to our readers, which will allow them to interact better both with each other and with us on subjects of common interest.

The Irish Timeshas had a proud and progressive history online. When it first established an online presence in 1994 as  www.irish-times.ie, it was the first newspaper in Britain or Ireland and one of the first 30 newspapers in the world to do so. The Irish Timesbought the domain name ireland.comin 1997. And in 1999,  www.ireland.comlaunched as the internet address of The Irish Times.

In 2002, www.ireland.comwas the most successful website in Ireland by standard media metrics, with 25 million audited page impressions per month and 2.5 million unique users. Later that year, like many other newspapers, we turned to a subscription model to provide a revenue stream.

A decision has now been made to move to www.irishtimes.comto complement a development programme over recent months to integrate The Irish Timesnewsroom in print and online. Journalists who previously worked for www.ireland.comin a separate building are now integrated into the newsroom in The Irish Timesbuilding on Tara Street.

The www.ireland.comaddress will be relaunched today as Ireland's homepage, a separate commercial and new free lifestyle portal site.

The launch of www.irishtimes.compresents us with the enhanced opportunity to bring Irish Timesstandards of journalism to a new audience.

In a new world where trust and accuracy are often the casualties of speed, www.irishtimes.comis designed to co-ordinate Irish Timescontent in print and online; to capitalise on our reputation for accuracy, authority, independent analysis and comment; to appeal to web-based readers who are growing in numbers; and, to restore The Irish Timestitle to the web.

Like this newspaper, www.irishtimes.comis governed by the Memoranda and Articles of The Irish TimesTrust which mandates us "to publish The Irish Timesas an independent newspaper primarily concerned with serious issues for the benefit of the community throughout the whole of Ireland, free from any form of personal or party political, commercial, religious or other sectional control".

The launch of www.irishtimes.comthis morning is intended to ensure the continuity of this newspapers distinct ethos, identity and journalism in new media.