It may have slipped the radar in the current newspaper turmoil but the London-based Irish Post closed yesterday. It is always sad to see a newspaper go under, especially when you have a personal association with it, but I can't say I am really surprised. The Irish Post had been losing money and, with its parent company TCH facing its own economic challenges over the water in Cork, its closure has looked inevitable for some time. Perhaps the short life of the Post is an illustration of what is happening to many, longer-established titles. It started in 1970 as a voice for the Irish in Britain when emigration was at its height. It was the brainchild of journalist Brendán Mac Lua and for years provided the Irish communities, particularly in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, with news from back home and in the UK. Its mission statement was 'If it's Irish in Britain, we've got it covered.' For years it ran the prestigious Irish Post Awards. But as the second and third generation Irish became absorbed and as the internet allowed instant access to news from home, it became less relevant. Distribution was also enormously difficult. In 2003 the paper was selling almost 32,000. When it closed yesterday it was about half that.
In 40 years the paper's raison d'etre simply disappeared. Its audience changed and technology made it surplus to requirements. Sound familiar?
It was a great institution though, a place full of characters. I first redesigned it in 1996, when Doug Baxter (now married to the actress Victoria Smurfit) was the chief executive and the late Donal Mooney was the editor. I then put in a consultant editor, Brian Page, while we helped to recruit a new full-time editor Norah Casey. In 2005 we redesigned it again. Last year I met the editor Mal Rogers, an award-winning travel writer, on the editor's chair course that I run for PA Training. We discussed the paper's strategy, its long term ambitions and the size of the task became clear. He was passionate about the Post and it is a real shame its closure came on his watch. I wish him and his team well.