21 JUNE 2010

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Article from BTNews 21 JUNE 2010

COMMENT: BA ditches British Airways News

In a week when The Times stops the free ‘on line’ edition, British Airways has ceased publication of its weekly award winning staff newspaper “For the people of British Airways.” 

According to Chief Executive Willie Walsh “BA is moving with the times.”  The publication has been replaced by “Up to Speed” a monthly, and “Up to Date”, a digital newsletter, both trendy titles.

Which is the right decision?  They are diametrically opposed.

The Times sees the way ahead as the printed edition, with on-line as a back-up.  BA is moving in the opposite direction with electronic news its main means of communications.  All this at a time when Apple launches its flat 9” screen “iPad”. 

Are we going to read the newspapers at 35,000ft, or take out our tablet PC?  You can’t give your companion half a computer!

British Airways News, a colourful weekly tabloid, was distributed to all the 40,000 staff plus something in the same order again of retired employees.  For a fee outsiders could go on the distribution. 

Whilst including mainly BA and industry news plus chit chat about staff (and their pictures too) it often contained small but useful items worth a mention, typically including lounge upgrades, change of menus, new and departing personnel and even short cuts on how to get to Heathrow.  Cargo and engineering were highlighted too.  For all (including journalists) it was a good source of news.

BA News was always worth a casual glance.  Will the same happen with “Up to Date?”  As a monthly “Up to Speed” has plenty of in depth material, but lacks immediacy. 

British Airways is of course heavily involved in the London Olympics.  The new publication has an interesting challenge.  Does it inform or is it an extension of the social web sites.  The first issue featured former gold medallist Denise Lewis but nothing on the build-up at and around the Olympic sites.  Or their visibility in and out of London City (Stratford) and Heathrow (Wembley).

The Times emphasizes the printed word whilst BA says digital, all in the same week.  Older readers will recall the introduction of ITV in the United Kingdom.  “The end of newspapers,” cried the pundits.  “All advertising will transfer to the Box!”  It never happened.

Willie has got it right with his tough stand regarding Unite.  With the lesser issue of BA News AERBT is not so sure. 

At least he will now only have to write his column once a month.


Malcolm Ginsberg

Editor in Chief

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