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Forward Thinking On The Web
A new online Irish current affairs magazine has launched, promising to throw the cat among the pigeons in the Irish media.
The site, which has been unofficially open for business since mid-October, is on target for achieving over 40,000 reads in its first month according to figures audited independently by Google and Statcounter.
Forth intends to carve out a niche in Irish life as a critical, independent voice unafraid to say the unsayable.
Readers have already been responding to the new arrival on the Irish media scene: “What a welcome addition is Forth to the normally turgid world of Irish journalism. It is not, repeat not, the usual old guff we have come to know and dread. On the contrary, it is topical and fresh and, what’s more, beautifully presented. Whatever your political and social predilections, you owe it to yourself to scan Forth regularly. Go ahead, and prepare to be amused, irritated and enlightened,”
Reader Caragh O’Donnell says Forth is unique in that it offers a genuinely critical platform for analysis and opinion: “At a time when there is a distinct lack of original and lucid cultural commentary in Ireland and beyond, Forth offers a much-needed platform for open debate,” she said.
Facing stiff competition from traditional newspapers and the likes of Village, Vincent Browne’s new venture Politico.ie and the soon to be re-launched Magill has not put Walsh off.
“I have no pretensions that we’re going to challenge major newspapers like the Irish Times and Irish Examiner,” he said. ”In fact, one of our key messages is that the web is an irrelevance insofar as it doesn’t matter how information is disseminated, so long as it is: the medium is not the message, to invert Marshall McLuhan.”
Nevertheless, Walsh argues that there is a space for an upstart like Forth: “Critical journalism has a value – we don’t have the resources to report the news but we can do more than just make banal comments about it or echo popular misconceptions. Other countries have alternative news outlets on the web such as Salon and Slate – it’s about time Ireland did too.”
The magazine isn’t even expected to turn a profit: “It’s non profit-making in the sense that I expect it to haemorrhage money,” said Walsh.
“We do sell advertising and hope to attract interest in our audience but the objective isn’t to make money, rather it’s to go against the grain of contemporary thinking in Irish social and political life,” said Walsh.
“At the moment Forth is entirely funded out of my own pockets – which are pretty-much empty, so I’m still working as a freelance journalist contributing as much as possible to newspapers and magazines just to make ends meet. It’s exhausting, but I think it’s worth it,” he said.
Forth’s writers include controversial British journalist Brendan O’Neill as well as plenty of homegrown talent including Lenny Antonelli, Finbar Rosato and others.
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About forth: forth is an independent news and current affairs web site based in Dublin and is edited by Jason Walsh