From the Editor

The Times is dead. Long live The Times

14 November 2017 - 07:10 By Andrew Trench

So the decision has been made: the last edition of The Times as a print publication will appear on December 15. We will return as a digital-only edition at the end of January.

For the many readers, particularly older readers, who have written to us beseeching us to reconsider, all I can say as the editor of The Times is that I'm sorry.

I'm not going write an essay about the changing economics of the news industry, except to say that it's a cold-bastard fact that the business has changed and The Times in print is one of the casualties. Also that it turns out that it's not a great business model to produce and hand-deliver a newspaper to subscribers mostly for free for 10 years. Who would have thought?

But while you, our dear readers, mourn our passing, let me tell you that the pain is real in our newsroom too.

As editor, let me share a little of what it means to produce a paper every day.

It's like being a parent to a young child. It demands all your attention and love. It keeps you awake at night. It has you tearing out your hair. You fight for it. You cry over it. You obsess over it, brushing its hair neatly and tying its shoelaces.

Then it's out in the world and you are so proud. And then you do it all over again, pretty much every single day.

Your The Times is great because of all who sail in her, if you'll forgive my mangling of metaphors. The team of journalists and editors responsible for her are about the best any editor could hope to work with. You are lucky readers to have had these people serve you.

Most of them will continue to do so in Times Select, our new digital edition, which will be a different product from the website www.timeslive.co.za. Times Select will be a self-contained daily digital edition to which we will try to transfer the magic of the print The Times. We are hoping to include the crosswords in this edition, and all our columnists will continue writing for us.

I know there are some things that digital cannot reproduce from the print experience. A reader, Jean Simpkins, wrote to tell us that she had taught Milly, her beagle, to retrieve the paper from the driveway each morning. "How do you teach a dog new tricks? When I told her of a possible digital-only version she just frowned," wrote Jean.

I'm sorry Milly and Jean, but that thump in the driveway each morning will be no more. But there's a silver lining too. Times Select will never not be delivered, land on the garage roof, nor end up in the fish pond.

Wayne Simpkins wrote to say he had a "real problem imagining me and my computer on the loo each morning". I agree, Wayne. That's what phones are for! And Times Select will be on them too.

No, it's true that there are many things associated with print that a digital edition cannot replace.

A turn to digital does not mean that what has made The Times special will be lost. There is nothing in the digital platform which defaults journalism to something second-rate. That's simply an editorial choice. We choose not to produce rubbish whether it's in print, in digital, or inscribed on the head of a pin.

So give us a chance in our new digital home. You stuck with us the last 10 years in print and I'd like to believe we never let you down. We don't intend to disappoint you in the future either.

The spunkiness, cheekiness and fun that represents The Times now will live on, I promise you. Please come along for the ride.

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