Current Affairs End of an era as Prague Post goes online only

30-07-2013 | Ian Willoughby

After 22 years, the Czech capital’s main English language newspaper, The Prague Post, has disappeared for good from the city’s newsstands. Following publication last Wednesday, the weekly’s publisher announced that from now on it will exist only on the internet. To find out what led to the decision, I spoke to the Post’s new managing editor Raymond Johnston.

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“This is happening worldwide. There’s just no real role for a weekly on paper anymore. People don’t live that way anymore. You get up and you don’t go out and buy the newspaper. You get up and you turn on the computer, you turn on your iPad, you turn on your phone and look for news.

“So in terms of our process it’s a huge waste of time to put out that paper product that has fewer and fewer people interested in it.

“Plus we’ve been holding up the news stories until the printed paper comes out, we’ve been holding them up from the website. They’re a week old because we don’t want to give them out for free on the web before people get a chance to buy the paper.

“But who wants week-old news? It’s just not a sustainable model.”

Did this change arise suddenly? I hadn’t heard anything about it going to happen.

“It was being planned as a transition over the next several months. But financially it looked like it was better to do it right away. Every print run was just a waste of money.”

Raymond Johnston, photo: archive of Raymond JohnstonRaymond Johnston, photo: archive of Raymond Johnston What will be your model now? Will you be having fresh stories every day? What’s the plan?

“Yes, we’ll be having fresh stories every day. We do have some e-subscribers who’ll be getting a PDF by email and they will be getting stories that have already been on the website, rather than us holding up stories like we used to. So yes, we’ll be putting up stories every day.

“We’ll be focusing initially more on culture than on news, because other websites cover the Czech news. Initially we’ll be focusing more on culture than on news, but we’ll have a mix.”

Your website, if you don’t mind me saying, looks slightly old-fashioned. Are you planning an overhaul?

“We are planning an overhaul. We hope to launch a new website soon, in the next couple of weeks, but there has been a redesign underway for about a year.”

You’re not planning a paywall, anything like that?

“Those things are under discussion. I can’t really comment on the paywall yet. Those are business decisions that are being made, though.”

What size staff do you have now?

“It’s a bit of a smaller staff than we had for the print version, because we don’t have all the pages to fill. We’re going to be putting up news when it’s news and not having to have particular sections to take care of all the time.”

You were saying it was a kind of inevitable move online, away from paper. But are you optimistic that The Prague Post, with its long history and well-known name, can survive that move?

“Yes, well, other magazines and publications worldwide have done this. Newsweek is no longer on paper. Many small and medium-sized towns in the US no longer have a newspaper on paper. It’s all online.

“I think the transition really has happened, because we have many more hits online than we do subscribers to the paper version.

“We’ll survive just like any other publication. People will want news. They just don’t want it on paper.”

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