Editor-in-chief Sunday World
Sunday World offers its readers a weekly dose of crime reporting, tasteful showbiz stories, entertainment news and sport.
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For the Sunday World, 2020 was a year of digital dawn. Starting an online news site amid a pandemic was extremely challenging. But it’s there now. And it’s a success.
The world changed beyond all recognition in 2020 – and in the Sunday World it was no different.
Although the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has been widely felt across our industry, what the past few months have taught us is that there is a growing appetite for trusted news and exclusive content.
When the virus struck in early March, many of our competitors were affected by dropping circulation figures, the hindrance of remote working, and a general downturn in the country’s economic outlook.
The Sunday World, however, continued to be the shining light in the Irish tabloid market and, through its mix of hard-hitting crime stories, undercover investigations and wacky tales from hidden Ireland, it managed to outperform its circulation budget for the year.
As others curtailed their ambitions during the Covid crisis, we decided to forge ahead with our ambitious plan to launch Sundayworld.com – our title’s new website – a project that had been given the green light in the final months of 2019.
Debuting an online news site might have seemed like a difficult proposition in normal circumstances, but to undertake such a task while working remotely – and with colleagues and departments who in many cases had never worked together – was a mammoth challenge.
However, the collaborative effort from our journalists, T&I experts, designers and colleagues in marketing and advertising, as well as the direction and assistance from our counterparts in the Netherlands and Belgium, was proof positive of the Mediahuis vision and commitment to expansion in the media industry.
Through the early months of the pandemic, as staff wrestled with the problems posed by remote working, large-scale meetings were held daily and decisions on concept, content and operational matters were taken.
Interviews with prospective staff journalists were conducted via video link and, while we have yet to meet our new colleagues in person, our trust in the process has been justified.
At the outset, a provisional launch schedule of late October/early November had been set for our new website, not allowing for any interruptions caused by a little-known virus. However, under the direction of Peter Vandermeersch, the Sundayworld.com website and app were successfully launched on 13 October 2020.
In the intervening months, we have been hugely encouraged as the numbers of daily users and pageviews have grown steadily. Currently, we are tracking ahead of all targets and have gone from a figure of zero users on 12 October to a daily average of 55,000. Our app traffic has also grown significantly in that period, and we are fast approaching 20,000 downloads.
Allied to the success of the website, we have also launched a new weekly crime podcast spearheaded by our investigations editor, Nicola Tallant. The podcast, Crime World, delves into the murky domestic and international underworld and has proved to be a huge hit with our audience. In its first three months, Crime World has regularly topped the Apple podcast charts and has outperformed other, more established titles.
The year 2020 will long be remembered for Covid-19 and the negative effect on many industries – however, in the Sunday World, it will forever be associated with a bright, digital dawn.