Editorial: May 2009

Alan O’Rourke

It is now ten years since I took over the post of editor of New Irish Lines, and I am rather aware that my little musings are usually of a retrospective nature, so it may be rather refreshing to have a future orientated editorial for a change. In short, the newsletter is joining the twenty-first century, maybe just a few years late, by going on-line. For some years, we have had a web-presence courtesy of Allen Worsley and Stephen Johnson, and these have brought many enquiries and quite a few confirmed subscriptions over the years. However, we now have our very own website, the url for which will appear on the cover from now on: https://newirishlines.org/

Most of the November 2008 issue is now up. I am very grateful to our member Patrick Conboy, who is the author of our web-pages and has spent a great deal of his time over the last few months developing the site. Please pay it a visit, look around and leave comments. As you will see, we have several add-on features, such as the chance to leave comments on specific articles and to start discussion threads.

However, to allay any fears, this does not mean that we are abandoning the printed version of the newsletter. While not wishing to create a two tier system of membership, there simply are some things that can be done on-line and which are impossible to achieve in a paper-based journal which only comes out every six-months, such as up to date press releases and notices of exhibitions. You may also note the option for paying by PayPal, which I hope to have running soon, which may solve the problem of paying in currencies other than Sterling or Euros. For this year, we will run the website along side the paper version. I will send on Patrick the text from this issue: please let me know if any of you who have kindly contributed material for this issue object to your work going on the website, and from now on, unless other wise informed, I will assume that all contributions can duly go on our website.  Just to be sure, I did check with all our authors for November 2008 before forwarding the material to Patrick! Also, in case anyone worries that we have broken the bank going on-line, the cost of registering the domain is less than £20 per annum, and not much more that the telephone expense of running the newsletter, in answering enquiries and chasing up articles.

However, as any of you who look at our annual balance sheet which appears in the November issue will know, some 90% of all the newsletter’s expenses go on just two items: postage and printing. The University Print Unit here in Sheffield has proved very competitive over the years and the cost of each issue has proved very stable. But, post is quite another matter: despite all the claims that the British economy is now entering a period of deflation, the Post Office has just increased most of its charges by about 8%. The revised subscription rates do allow us some leeway, but another substantial increase will probably require another rise in subscriptions to balance the books. But, since the main costs of the newsletter are on printing and stamps, if we move to a state where some members choose to download the newsletter from the website, we could offer a much lower subscription rate to such folk. This is not favouritism: it just recognises that we have by-passed the post-man and shifted the cost of printing to the subscriber. The other overheads for the newsletter are very modest. You will note that the website is not pass-word protected. Patrick and I discussed this, and we felt that using passwords might be un-necessarily complex; they can get shared and abused anyway. Moreover, I would like the website to be open to all, including the casual browser who may or may not want to become a regular subscriber. Again, since if at all possible I send enquirers a complementary specimen back number, access to an on-line copy will actually save me work and the newsletter postage. We do hope that most subscribers will be willing to make a small payment, either by the current means or via PayPal, to offset the annual fee for the web site and the other modest overhead for the newsletter.

So, for 2009 we will run paper and website along side. Please visit the website, explore and send comments to me or to Patrick at newirishlines@gmail.com. From 2010 onwards,we may be in a positon to offer alternative paper and web-based subscriptions, but rest assured that there are no plans to discontiue the “hard copy” for all members who prefer to continue to receive New Irish Lines in that format.

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