Five minutes with… Majella Gallagher, Managing Director of the Irish Examiner and The Echo

As part of a regular series of interiews with news publishers, recently we spoke with Majella Gallagher, Managing Director of the Irish Examiner and The Echo.

What drew you to the news publishing business?

I have been interested in journalism and media since my school days. Before joining The Irish Times, I worked in investment banking, which is very different to the world of media. 

My work in human resources gives me a unique insight into all aspects of the media business whether editorial, commercial or technological. Change has been a key theme within the media industry in the last two decades and I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to play a part in leading that at The Irish Times.  My role with the Examiner Group predates to the acquisition by The Irish Times in 2018. It was another significant change and a privilege to play a part in bringing the two organisations together.   I was appointed managing director of the Irish Examiner and The Echo in January 2020, along with the new editor of the Examiner, Tom Fitzpatrick. Two months later we were thrust into lockdown, so the last 18 months have been challenging, but with the support of a strong management team, we have managed to make massive progress. 

Success and Achievements?

In 2019, The Echo rebranded and introduced a new website, EchoLive.  The editor of The Echo and EchoLive, Maurice Gubbins, is an outstanding journalist, editor, mentor and leader and we are very lucky to have him.

More recently, we were delighted to launch the Examiner’s digital subscription services. We built a brand new website with new  systems during a time that our managers and staff were working from their kitchen tables and spare rooms.  In the period since, we have been able to create a substantial digital audience and have a solid new revenue stream for the business.  Managers and staff across the Irish Examiner and The Echo have shown remarkable levels of loyalty and commitment throughout and it is that commitment that is now paying off in terms of the early success of the subscription service.  

As an industry, we have seen a shift back towards traditional news publishers where people know that they will get news and information they can trust.  We have never been more relevant and with relevance you can sustain and build revenue.

 Challenges?

Media organisations have a challenge to bring a greater level of diversity and inclusion to the industry.  It is really important that we continue to focus on improving gender balance in general terms and also find ways to have more women working at senior levels within the industry.   Our senior management team has a good gender balance and we believe that this is essential for our business. This is a priority in the Group and we will continue to build on the change we have been able to achieve in this area. 

A worrying issue in media is the trend for abuse and harassment, particularly from certain elements of social media. This is very often targeted at women.  As an industry we must make it a priority to introduce measures to ensure that our staff can safely carry out their work. We need supporting policies and escalation routes where harassment and abuse can be reported and addressed.

What is next?

The Irish Examiner celebrates its 180th anniversary this year.  Over the course of the year, we plan to celebrate with our readers, subscribers, customers and with our staff.  

We wouldn’t have achieved all that we have without the dedication of our employees, past and present.  As the current custodians, it is our job to support and grow our publishing brands to pass on to the next generation while staying true to our values and ethos. 

We have entered into new media partnerships with Munster Rugby and Cork GAA and this, along with our digital subscription service and our 180th anniversary have given us a unique opportunity to showcase our brand through our different marketing campaigns.

I think the future is bright for the Irish Examiner and The Echo, thanks to commitment of our staff and the energy they have brought to bringing quality, trusted journalism to new audiences of readers and subscribers.