CO-OPERATIVE Press Ltd has announced plans to improve its news service to the Movement by expanding and upgrading its website thenews.coop and switching Co-op News to fortnightly publication with additional pages and more in-depth articles and analysis.
The change, one of the biggest in the society's 134-year history, is designed to give the Press a sustainable, profitable future and is being driven by the changing demands of our readers as well as by high weekly production and distribution costs.
The last weekly News will appear on May 3rd and the new-style fortnightly publication will take its bow two weeks later in time for Congress 2005 in Glasgow.
Co-op News Managing Editor David Bowman said: "Our website www.thenews.coop has been a big success and we have had over 150,000 unique vistors in the past year alone. We know that many people who read the News visit the site regularly to catch up with the latest developments as, often, big stories break some days before we can include them in the printed version.
"From next month, subscribers to the News package will be given exclusive access to a more user-friendly and interactive website, which will be strengthened by the fact that all news stories printed in the paper will be available via our searchable archive facility.
"News readers will also be able to receive personalised email alerts and a weekly e-newsletter and will be offered a more readable and interesting fortnightly news magazine covering all aspects of our diverse and vibrant Movement."
Bulk supply customers are being contacted before the changeover and individual subscribers who have paid for the weekly paper will be credited with extra editions on a pro-rata basis from mid-May.
"It's a very challenging and exciting time for our small full-time staff," added Mr Bowman. "But like everyone else, the News has to move with the times. It has been clear for some time that the News as a weekly publication is not sustainable because of the dramatic fall in our traditional advertising revenue – largely as a result of the changes brought about by the Movement's streamlined buying operations.
"Obviously, this is a radical and fundamental step, but we are confident that it is one that will be welcomed and appreciated by our thousands of loyal readers and supporters."