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Well, I’m sure I don’t need to draw any of my readers attention to the recent announcement by Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas which gave a “clear indication of this Welsh Assembly Government’s support to the Welsh language print media.” The announcement of funding “to fulfil the government’s commitment” to “expand the funding and support for Welsh language magazines and newspapers, including the establishment of a Welsh language daily newspaper” has perhaps not been greeted with as much enthusiasm as the rhetoric might have suggested it would be.
Was there a missed opportunity here? Well, certainly I think that Rhodri Glyn Thomas missed at least one trick; if he had waited until today to make his announcement he would have been making it on International Mother Language Day, during the International Year of Languages. Surely such a momentous announcement for the future of Welsh language print media could have waited a few days in order to coincide with this auspicious date?
Of course this blog doesn’t really concern itself with print media – other than labels on milk – so can we put an internet slant on this? Of course we can. Firstly, many people have suggested that a print publication is simply too 20th (19th?) century and that really a Welsh language daily newspaper should be on the WWW. To be honest I haven’t yet had time to check this out – but are there any examples of commercial successful purely online newspapers? Is there a business model that could deliver the editorial and journalistic quality Y Byd aspired to, but only through online provision? It is important to remember that Y Byd was embracing online provision – and indeed provided online only subscriptions. Was the commitment to paper a commercial necessity or was there something more symbolic about being a “proper” newspaper?
Secondly, part of the response to the announcement has been conducted online. Y Byd themselves link to a variety of online sources, Heini Gruffudd is using email to collect signatures for a letter of protest and Cymdeithas have launched an online petition which is also being promoted by email. Perhaps there are other on and offline activities that I am not aware of, but the internet is clearly a tool that comes easily to hand these days when protest needs to be organised.