THE EDITOR'S CHAIR: App is part of new era at Argus
IT'S been the start of a brave new world in the Argus newsroom this week.
There has been a bonfire of the Apple Macs as our journalists have moved on to an new PC-based editorial computer system.
The process of going live on a new IT system is never without its problems, and I speak as someone who has moved from typewriters to green screen to on-screen page make-up and beyond over the last 30 years.
But even though there have been some long hours involved, this week has gone remarkably smoothly compared to some experiences I've had.
That is down entirely to the hard work and commitment of Argus staff and this column affords me the opportunity to say a public thank-you to all of them.
Hopefully, you will have noticed very little difference to your Argus - other than that it continues to be bigger and better thanks to the additional pages, reports and pictures we have added since the beginning of July.
One change I hope you will notice is the launch of the South Wales Argus app.
This went live on Tuesday and is a direct result of the introduction of our new system, which allows us to work seamlessly across our print and digital publications.
Our new app is only available initially to iPad and iPad mini users but will soon be available to view on iPhones and other mobile devices.
You can access our app from the iTunes App Store. Simply search for South Wales Argus and then follow the instructions to download the app.
The app will bring you all the latest Argus news and sports stories plus up-to-the-minute national news and sport and all the very latest showbiz news and gossip.
There is also a nationwide property and jobs search section.
As the app develops, there will be dedicated channels for Newport County AFC and Newport Gwent Dragons news, and for our popular letters section.
I have written before in this column about my belief that news is not free. It has a cost and therefore a value.
So our new app will not be free for everyone.
There is a 28-day free trial for everyone who downloads the app. After that, it will cost £9.99 for four weeks via a subscription that will be renewed automatically unless you request otherwise.
The app is updated throughout the day so £9.99 works out at just over 35p a day.
That's great value but there are also ways of getting the app for free after the 28-day trial runs out.
Next month we will be printing a QR code in the Argus every day. This is a bit like a barcode that you scan with your iPad or other mobile device.
If you buy the paper, simply scan the QR code and you will have free access to the app for 24 hours.
Better still, if you are one of our direct delivery customers you will be rewarded for your loyalty to us and receive a special code that will allow you to download the app for free. Your free access will stay in place while you remain one of our customers.
A lot of work has gone into developing and producing the app.
Take a look. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
Forge ahead for new prosperity
THE decision by Natural Resources Wales to drop its opposition to the Circuit of Wales racetrack near Ebbw Vale is, in my view, brilliant news.
Blaenau Gwent is one of Britain’s most deprived areas.
It has been criminally ignored by the powers that be for decades as the collapse of traditional heavy industries led to mass unemployment and grinding poverty.
The Circuit of Wales is not just Blaenau Gwent’s best chance of future prosperity, it is the area’s only chance.
NRW now says the environmental impact of the circuit can be mitigated and it has reached an agreement with the Heads of the Valleys Development Corporation over its objections. That's good.
I’d now like to see a similar agreement reached between the corporation and Gwent Wildlife Trust, which maintains its staunch opposition to the scheme.
Let’s hope Tom Clarke, from GWT, and Michael Carrick, from HovDC, can get together to find a way forward.
While environmental concerns cannot be ignored, I am convinced the need for jobs and economic renewal in Blaenau Gwent is more important in this instance.
Like we said in our opinion column yesterday, let’s just get it built.
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