Learning to live between the online and printed worlds

The most important departure since we launched Agenda in the ’90’s

At the same moment ClickonWales went live last Friday afternoon I was putting the finishing touches to the Spring 2010 issue of our journal Agenda, which will land on IWA members’ doorsteps in about ten days or so. Of course, the timing was pure coincidence, but it led me to reflect on the diverging worlds of print and online publishing. Much of the content that you’ll see on ClickonWales is similar or even, in some cases, the same as you’ll read in Agenda. However, the rhythm and processes are completely different.

Agenda appears three times a year, though often it feels like much more than that. Planning the content can take up to a year, with a gestation period for some articles taking more than three issues. Many pieces are based on presentations people give at IWA conferences. Others are prompted by significant news developments or emerge out of conversations with people I happen to bump into. Encouragingly, a growing number of authors contact the IWA with ideas. The challenge always is to ensure that each issue has an eclectic spread of themes and perspectives, covering the economy, politics, education, housing, health, the environment, science, culture, communications, and European and international affairs.

As editor I particularly value informed opinion, writers who have something to say and a strong point of view about it. That’s why the journal always opens with an Opinion piece. The current issue has the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, explaining why he finds no contradiction in a man of the cloth being heavily involved in politics. The forthcoming issue has Graham Meadows, former Director General of the European Commission’s Regional Directorate, telling Welsh policymakers in Cardiff Bay that they’d better get their skates on if they want to influence the next round of Convergence Funding. In recent issues we’ve introduced an ‘Outlook’ section which gives space for shorter opinion pieces, often on the same theme but from contrasting viewpoints.

John Osmond is Director of the IWA

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