11 June 2009

You wait for ages for a Drugs News service and then three come along at once!

The strange saga of Daily Dose and DS Daily...

It’s been a funny few months for drug news services. For a long time the Daily Dose, established by David Clark, was the first daily Drugs News bulletin. Compiled by the industrious and diligent Jim Young, it built up a significant number of subscribers.

But, in April 2009, Jim Young left the Daily Dose. Editorials on the Daily Dose website suggested that attempts by the NTA to interfere with editorial content was the cause of this, a claim refuted by the NTA. The Daily Dose was briefly suspended, before reappearing with a new format at the end of April.All this must have been manna to Drink and Drug News who launched their own email Drug News service at the end of March. This subscription service (at
http://www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/Register.aspx) is a relatively slim affair compared to Daily Dose, focussing as it does mainly on UK news services.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Drugscope then launched their own news service DS Daily – (
http://www.dsdaily.org.uk/) in May 2009. Previously, their news had come from their regular Members Briefings but the DS Daily represented a new development, currently not dependent on Drugscope membership. But the biggest surprise of the launch was that Jim Young had moved across to Drugscope and was editing/running the DS Daily. First impressions of DS Daily is that it looks to be an excellent service, well-edited, and covering important stories. It is also much tidier and not overly cluttered either by advertising or by op-ed pieces.The launch of DS Daily, and the re-emergence of Mr Young within the Drugscope team, suggests an interesting back-story. The website name was only registered on the 7th May 2009, and the website was up and running a couple of weeks later. This all suggests some nimble footwork on the part of Harry S at Drugscope and some fast work by Jim. As an aside, site admin appears to have been done by Ash Whitney of Wired Up Wales, who had previously been the webmaster for Daily Dose!

However, three similar news aggregators would seem to be too many to be sustained. Few people are going to want to receive all bulletins as they will contain much duplication. Some will lose subscribers. This probably won’t be fatal. The bigger challenge will be funding, and which provider can garner sufficient funds and clout to survive.At present, Daily Dose has a far higher profile than DS Daily. But then it has been around since 2001, and so has a major headstart over the Drugscope upstart. And even if there is a drop off in subscriptions, the number of organisations linked to Daily Dose assures it a high search-engine rating for the foreseeable future. But it isn’t all about traffic. The funding is crucial and here, Daily Dose has probably shot itself in the foot.

Following their contre-temps with the NTA, Daily Dose decided to decline further funding from the NTA. We don’t know how much this was scheduled to be; in the year 07/08 it appears to be £50,000. For a charity that reported sponsorship of only £80,000 in financial year ending May ’08, such a drop off in funding could be catastrophic. Ominously, the NTA email hinted at the role that other could play, saying “However, the shut-down provoked some people to start asking questions, and others to suggest that they could step into the breach to provide an alternative”

Drugscope’s sponsorship of Daily Dose was scheduled to end anyway; the NTA’s has now gone, and it will be interesting to see how long sponsorship from the Home Office (which results in the FRANK logo and Tackling Drugs Changing Lives) remains.

It may well be that we end up with three distinct ‘products:’ the Wired-In community site which ends up primarily promoting a recovery model, Drink and Drug News bulletins, which includes some news stories and importantly recruitment opportunities and field-specific developments, and DS Daily, which will concentrate on the dissemination of news and bulletins. We will have to wait and see.The only thing that also remains unclear is what really went on behind the scenes in late April at Wired-In resulting in Jim’s departure and rapid reappearance at Drugscope. While the NTA’s email may have been significant, the developments point strongly to internal issues at Wired-In and the direction in which Daily Dose was going. But, as with which of the drug news services will survive this year, only time will tell.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. DS Daily is a far more comprehensive digest of news and views on drugs than the present DD.