Prague Daily Monitor news site relaunched with added original content

For four years now, the Prague Daily Monitor has been gathering news in English about the Czech Republic on one useful website. It groups stories thematically, with headlines followed by links to a variety of sources, such as the Czech Press Agency and Radio Prague. But since Thursday the Prague Daily Monitor has a new form, including original content for the first time. I spoke to its publisher Bryn Perkins and asked him: what exactly is new?

Bryn Perkins
"Well most obviously we have a completely new look, which is easy to read, and it's easy to find what you're looking for. We also have a lot more photos, from the most current Czech events.

"But we've also added a complete Czech press review, full translations from the Czech press and original writing of our own on the top stories of the day. Those are part of our Monitor Plus service."

To me it looks like a newspaper - is that the intention?

"It is part of the intention, yes. We're trying to be Prague's daily newspaper. We're only on the internet, but for people who want news this is the place to go."

How much of the material on the Prague Monitor is generated by yourselves?

"Quite a bit. Before we were mostly using wire copy from the Czech Press Agency. But now we're producing a complete Czech review every morning, which is quite a bit of work. We're also writing a couple of stories on the top issues, again fresh every day.

"I'm not quite sure in percentage terms, but it's quite a lot. And of course we're still pointing to news on the internet, from all the other publications that cover the Czech Republic."

Including Radio Prague, of course. Tell us, who are you users - are they based in the Czech Republic, or outside the country, do you know?

"In a survey we did we found about half of our readers are inside the country, and half are out. Which is actually quite a large percentage to be inside the country, and to be English speakers, to be reading it."

Is there a risk in going to paid premium copy? I know a few years ago many newspapers tried it and failed - only the big ones survived. Is there a risk involved in that?

"There certainly is, but we think we've done our homework, and we're very confident. People who are interested in the Czech Republic do not have a lot of places to turn for daily Czech news...Radio Prague is one of them.

"The Prague Daily Monitor is trying to be that full daily newspaper that supplies today's business news, regular news, plus cultural information - and keep people updated."

And for those of us like myself who are cheapskates and don't want to spend money on anything - anything on the internet that is, at least - how much of the Monitor is going to remain free?

"Everything that is currently free will stay free. And it's on a nicer-looking site with more photos. However, the Czech press review and the articles that we're writing and the translations - its only 2,500 crowns a year, which is only 10 crowns or about 50 US cents a day. For 250 issues a year. We've tried to price this so it will be within the means of almost anybody."