It's no secret that the internet has changed journalism. From the way people consume news to how frequently they want access to it, the traditional newspaper and 6 o'clock news have fallen by the wayside.
Enter iPolitics, an online news resource with a specific focus on Canadian politics. Based in Ottawa, iPolitics publishes content throughout the day - everyday. We recently chatted with Yamina Tsalamlal and Sally Douglas, both of the iPolitics Business Team, to learn more about how they started, how they support newbies entering the journalism world, and how they continue to reach more and more readers online.
How did iPolitics get started?
James Baxter, the owner of iPolitics, is a seasoned Canadian journalist. Just over 7 years ago he had completed the Neiman's Fellowship (a Harvard program focused on the future of journalism) and felt it was the right time to step out on his own. At the time, he believed there was an opportunity to fill a niche by delivering up-to-the-minute, non-partisan news and policy to the politically engaged across Canada. While there were and are many publications doing a great job in a general capacity, he was right in believing there was a need for a much deeper reporting and analysis solution for the politics of the nation.
James was very well taken care of by his managers and mentors as a young reporter. In setting up iPolitics, he was also determined to pass that forward by creating a coaching ground for the next generation of journalists. A place where they could work alongside seasoned experts who could guide and support them as they grew and developed. Throughout the iPolitics story, we have attracted the best of recent journalism grads and paired them with some of the best known names in the industry to make up our newsroom.
Why did you choose to have an online presence instead of a physical one?
The newspaper industry is one of many whose evolution was irreversibly changed by the internet. Print restricts news flow, cannot be altered or updated, is not good for the environment and cannot keep up with our readers' need to be the first to know. Many of the more established news outlets still carry their print operation but they are diminishing fast. iPolitics had the opportunity to come out of the start gate without that cumbersome overhead.
We instead created a service to carry in your back pocket throughout the working day. Reliable, quality and convenient solutions for anyone who needs to be on the pulse of political news. Our community is often vocal and keen to share opinion which our online presence facilitates. The interactive element allows us to use media beyond photography and the written word. We are able to offer audio, video and interactive infograms as well as links to other news websites that are useful to our subscribers. And with an online solution there are no space restrictions, allowing us considerably more flexibility with layout and styling.
How do you reach new readers?
Social media is a significant element of our strategy. It is fast and far reaching, but it is not our sole solution. We work hard to have a consistent physical presence in the community. We not only attend many relevant events and conferences, but facilitate a wide range of panel discussions, talks and conferences, too. Our most valued asset, however, is our business development team; A committed group of people working every day to find our readers, scrutinize their needs, build on our solutions and services, and continue to foster our community.
When iPolitics began, we had 2 revenue sources. A subscriber paid to read us and we sold advertising space to our clients on the website. Today we have an array of services - too many to mention them all. One that we are most proud of is our iPoliticsINTEL service. INTEL provides parliamentary monitoring for clients so that they can stay on top of legislation that could affect their business' bottom line. We have a podcasting studio, can produce customized magazines, and organize policy lunches. All of these services are packaged together so iPolitics can be a one-stop solution for clients who want to engage with government effectively.
These are just a few examples. We have a core value at iPolitics: if it makes sense and offers a solid solution to the client, we will move mountains to make it happen. This has served us well and helped us thrive in a market space that is going through unparalleled change and downsizing.
What does 2018 hold for iPolitics?
The written word is no longer enough. Our community wants to receive accurate information in the most efficient way possible. With so much noise out there, we want to help our clients access quality content conveniently. We are having lots of fun building out additional ways to engage.
We work for an entrepreneur, so beyond that anything could happen. The sand is always moving at iPolitics. And that is just the way we like it.