The Detail will launch in January…

The Guardian informs us that Bob Geldof’s media company Ten Alps will launch The Detail [added link], a Belfast-based news and current affairs website, in January.

From The Guardian report

The Detail will launch in January and is backed by £750,000 in grants from two bodies, Atlantic Philanthropies and Norther[n] Ireland Screen. This money is budgeted to fund the project for two years.

Trevor Birney, managing director of Belfast-based independent producer Below the Radar, is to be head of The Detail. Below the Radar is owned by Ten Alps, the TV and digital production company campaigned unsuccessfully last year for an independently funded local news pilot to be run in Northern Ireland.

Birney said Atlantic Philanthropies provided £600,000, with Northern Ireland Screen providing the balance. Atlantic Philanthropies is a US charitable organisation businessman founded by Charles “Chuck” Feeney, who made his fortune in duty free shops. The foundation, set up in 1982, assisted in the creation of the Huffington Post, but this is its first foray into Northern Ireland journalism, Birney said.

Hmm…  It’s not its first foray into Northern Ireland…

Nor its first foray into journalism in Ireland…

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  • DC

    He who pays the independent piper still picks the tunes.

  • Granni Trixie

    Not AA again! More social engineering?.

  • Pete Baker

    Sceptical not cynical, DC.

  • Cynic

    Given the remit of Northern Ireland Screen

    ” Our main areas of activity include funding; locations, services and facilities; exhibition and digital film archive; education; business support, skills and training; marketing and information. ”

    why is it investing in journalism and a website? Arent three local TV stations enough never mind all the radio ones as well ?

    And are Nelson and Arlene aware that their arms length bodies are now iun bed with Atlantic Philanthropies, especially after Monica’s recent little problem?

  • Mark McGregor

    I see they are recruiting – http://thedetail.tv/

    Seems the shiny new digital media platform will have old school staff.

    They’d have been better trying to poach Mick 😉

  • DC

    I think this time I am being too cynical – too soon.

    All the same, somewhat ridiculous these Americans and their tax loopholes and duty free sellers. The downside of a minimal state I wonder – that certain businessmen get to decide what to spend their money on based on their own judgement.

    I guess it is a positive enough thing because it provides a creative opportunity, an opportunity for new age media and a chance for those upcoming media talents to do their thing.

  • Mark McGregor

    DC,

    Except it doesn’t, they are recruiting for people with experience in the old media (2-7years).

    No new talent or new approaches required.

    I said below they should have poached Mick, on 2nd thoughts Alan on a salary or Pete would be better.

  • DC

    Well Mick is both old and new media, mind you don’t think he has 7 years of experience though 🙂

  • Mark McGregor

    DC,

    Mick has plenty of experience and I know this is off topic and wrong but recently when I think of him the following pops into my head (in an affectionate way) for some reason:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4yYhnkxdfI

    Sorry, Mick 😉

  • DC

    Looking at that page you posted – thedetail.tv – Mick would fit the bill.

    Might suit you as well Mark, but you could fall down on impartiality standards.

  • Ulick

    Would I be correct in thinking Fearghal McKinney is tied up in this venture as well?

  • Mark McGregor

    DC,

    That’s funny. I’m lucky I can find any job.

    I recently realised I’d become the anti-Thatcher – ‘discord, error, doubt, and despair’ are my mantras.

  • DC

    Nothing wrong with doubt.

  • Drumlin Rock

    As we have seen before Chucks money always has an agenda, and rarely has it been friendly to mainstream Unionist thinking, I would also question government funding going towards news media, be it online in this case.

  • kells

    Bob Geldof is one of the most Pro Unionist creatures on this island!

  • pippakin

    There is not a group there I have any respect for. A conspiracy theorist might say some ‘groups’ are empire building. I suppose I believe it would be a good thing if we were allowed to solve our problem ourselves, alone.

  • Drumlin Rock

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Geldof

    thought I would look him up, see if your right, seems like he rarely is “on this island” although remains a citizen of the RoI, his crusadeing tendancies could make for a unstable influence long term.

  • Cynic

    I don’t give a stuff for the politics but why is my tax money being spent on this when we have to cut child benefit because Labour ate all the pies?

  • Alias

    Given that Slugger hasn’t found a way to make this lark pay its way, what is Sir Bob going to do when the grants run out in 2 years? I guess the difference is that Radar’s angle will be “investigations and analysis” as opposed to just analysis so there is certainly an opening there but the downside of that void is that there are no suitable hacks with any experience of investigative reporting.

    Sir Bob is the archetypical self-hating, anglophile Irishman who thinks that it is an affront to civilisation that the nation is even sovereign, so Chuck, as is his practice, is funding those ‘Irishmen’ who promote the agenda that Irish should be a non-sovereign nation.

  • Mark McGregor

    The business model is clear – they are keeping it advert free and asking for links for now.

    Once the grant runs out they’ll need to sell the content, generate ad revenue or go bust.

    It’s a local grant suported PA – it’ll go belly up because those involved are solely devoted to chasing the pound.

  • Cynic

    So why not give a third the money to Sir Mick and see how Slugger develops

  • Cynic

    …and given that this new venture appears to be internet based and therefore international, was this state aid approved by the EU?

  • Alias

    Going bust is the most likely option in year 3. The actual business model, to my cynical eye, is to locate a sucker and his money and duly part him from it. Get 750k in grants, spent, circa 300k, and 450k goes in internal ‘costs’ for Radar.

  • Alias

    Mick could probably get an OBE (no an out-of-body experience) or such for ‘promoting intercommunity political dialogue in Northern Ireland’ but he would never stoop to accepting it….

  • the last thing we need here is more government funded ‘media’.

  • and was there a conclusion to the Daily Liarland inquest? Or did they just not bother with such annoyances?

  • Do we have to call him Saint Mick from now on? Mick hasn’t had such sustained plaudits on Slugger for ages!

    Presumably TenAlps/BelowTheRadar had a reasonably robust business case that showed financial viability beyond the initial funding in order to successfully extract money from Atlantic Philanthropies and NI Screen.

    Given the kind of experience they’re trying to recruit into The Detail, they’re going into this a lot more seriously than just putting a few new media graduates in front of typewriters! So maybe the next NI Water story will be dug up by them?

  • Granni Trixie

    But remember a curious thing about AP is that their staff approach you, they do not “allow” others to approach them.

    So it is not the same as making a good business case and taking your chances. AP is therefore likely to have been the initiatior of the project.

  • Anon

    What, the same twenty commentators talking round in circles repeatedly? Maybe this new venture will get another twenty and then we’re really cooking.

  • Cynic

    Yes there was a concussion. It was crap, nobody bought it and it went bust …. then they blamed everyone else.

  • They may seek you out, but they still don’t hand over bags of cash without being convinced. Some people are approached but don’t get the money.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Not everyone was as keen as Monica in going along with their agenda, the money is not without strings i’m sure.
    As for motivation maybe Chuck didnt like some of the criticism he took on Slugger and is trying to fund a “rival” to silence us! To be honest the main online rival would be the BBC News, hardly indepth reporting true, but its probably enough for 90% of the people, I cant see how the other 10% can make this venture viable, even if editorially the perfect balance is kept.

  • Framer

    Atlantic is only one man where NI is concerned. Think CAJ.

  • Framer

    Atlantic is only one man where NI is concerned.

    Think CAJ.

  • Alias

    “Presumably TenAlps/BelowTheRadar had a reasonably robust business case that showed financial viability beyond the initial funding in order to successfully extract money from Atlantic Philanthropies and NI Screen.”

    I think you’ll find that is the case with all those entities that get scammed out of grants. So no is disputing that procedures are in place to evaluate the long-term viability of a project: the issue is the effectiveness/defectiveness of them. As Mark pointed out, free money spawns an industry dedicated to chasing it.

    In this example you have bodies without a profit-seeking agenda investing in entities that are profit-seeking so the ROI for Chuck in particular doesn’t have a monetary value. If the investors were also profit-seeking when they are more likely to have scrutinised the proposal as a business rather than as a social project and so you’d be more confident of that scrutiny than you would be when the case is otherwise.

    The way those in the grants-chasing business work is that they charge ‘management fees’ to the subsidiary that has received the free money, and these costs duly eat up a substantial part of it. Since there is no extra cost to the parent company in providing these services to the grant-aided entity, these costs which are carried on the grant-aided entity’s books as such translate as pure bottom-line profit on the parent’s books.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first three years, so having a good business plan on paper and convincing others to invest in it is rather obviously no guarantee of success.

  • Mick Fealty

    I wish them the very best of luck.

    Trevor has a track record of passionate and obstinate journalism. Absolutely buy this is what’s needed. D

    Despite our continuing forays into investigative journalism, it’s very man hours intensive.

    For the sake of all concerned, that’s time better paid for than not. The key trick for them (and for us in our project) is to find some way to sustain that kind of intensive work without ‘soiling’ the product so to speak.

  • Mick Fealty

    DC,

    That’s more relevant than you should know or ever find out about. 🙂

  • mopphead

    What will happen if The Detail stumbles over a big story involving NI Screen or its parent body Invest NI?

  • Granni Trixie

    Framer: thats what should worry people. It could be the agenda of the same network of people/org. which drives the project. Many of these same people have received enormous sums from AP for the BOR Campaign. Is this an extrension of that agenda? I dont mind if it is but it is a lack of transparency values with AP which is so striking.

  • Framer

    This is a strange development Granni.

    Atlantic says it refuses applications for money and only hands it out when the great CAJ one conceives of a worthy recipient.

    An example would be British-Irish Human Rights Watch, a well-established organisation in south west London with a staff of three which has received over two million pounds for its energetic efforts.

    Yet this scheme being non-existent at the time could not have been ‘chosen’. Atlantic must have been working it up with someone from the outset!

  • Knowing Trevor, he’d pursue it to conclusion. Can’t see UTV or ITV avoiding investigations into any of their advertisers (who fund them).

  • Alias

    Philanthropy is just another word for political propaganda, eh?

  • pippakin

    Philanthropy is just another word for political propaganda, eh?

    In my experience? every time…

  • Double Standards

    If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. It will go the same way as Daily Ireland, that other one too, was it Dail View?

  • Tweedybird

    I read through it and found some of the articles were quite refreshing as compared with our usual local media outlets. Give it a chance that is only its first edition.