Keeping the NI net free…

John Fay is asking for voluntary subscribers to his excellent resource, Newshound. I imagine most of our readers are regular users of Newshound as John does an excellent job bringing to the public internet domain articles that would otherwise go unread or unnoticed. It’s an argument that resonates with us.

He’s been getting up at about six every morning, seven days a week to put together a resource that were it produced privately and distributed only amongst MPs, politicians, PRs, business men/women and journalists would almost certainly have netted him a decent income for each of the eight or so years he’s been running it.

As it is, he has made his resource publicly available. He’s kept publications like the Irish News, Irish Times, and the Sunday Tribune in front of a global audience, after they all but disappeared from view overnight. And it is completely free to the user.

Don’t be fooled by the amount of advertising on the site. As I understand it from John, the income this brings in does little more than defray some of the site’s running costs.

Asking for donations is somewhat alien to our European culture. It makes us feel awkward, embarassed even. But it is also one way that ordinary people can make things happen that have nothing to do with government directives or policy initiatives. It is also a way that professionals who benefit from the likes of Newshound (and yes, Slugger) can put something back for what is given freely.

If you haven’t done so already, make a contribution to Newshound in terms of its value to you, and what you can afford. Otherwise, we may not be able to count on John’s early morning offices for much longer. And if you’ve anything left over, stick in our own donation button and help keep the craic going here at Slugger too.

  • martymc

    He’s been getting up at about six every morning, seven days a week

    He does it all manually?

    From what I understand, computers are good at doing repetitive tasks.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well there are some programmes that do some very interesting things; the mysociety.org group is currently working on a whole tranche of them. But they are usually very work intensive and require substantial investment at some stage or other.

    If you’ve ever tried using a programme-driven aggregator (like Google News) to track NI news you’ll know the diffence in quality between that and the high quality service that John offers.

  • nuzhound

    martymc,

    Yes, I do it manually. Computers are great for repetitive tasks as long as those tasks don’t require thought. Mick’s reference to google news (or moreover.com or whatever) is right. These services will find instances of certain words in on-line papers. But, what those words should be (unless you simply want every instance of “Northern Ireland” or whatever, is a very complicated question. Also, there is judgment with regards to the value of each story. I can’t claim to get this right every time, but I know I’m better than google news. Computers can’t easily make those value judgments.

    There is a possibility that someday some form of Artificial Intelligence will render my manual effort as redundant, but that’s a long, long way off.

  • nuzhound

    Mick, thanks again for your endorsement.

    He’s been getting up at about six every morning, seven days a week to put together a resource that were it produced privately and distributed only amongst MPs, politicians, PRs, business men/women and journalists would almost certainly have netted him a decent income for each of the eight or so years he’s been running it.

    Hmm. That’s a model I haven’t tried yet! 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    Maybe we could team up on it?