The Dublin Inquirer: Show and Tell
Show & Tell Interviews:
Lois Kapila of The Dublin Inquirer
Still less than six months old, the Dublin Inquirer is an online-only weekly newspaper rapidly carving out a niche for itself amongst the maelstrom of digital publications in the city. Publishing the week’s content every Wednesday since the start of June, the site contains a wide range of reportage and writing. Lois Kapila, the Inquirer’s founder, says that the aim was to start a paper aimed at “young-ish readers”, featuring “reporting as good as the best of the national’s, writing that’s a bit less formal and more accessible, and a focus on the city”. She mentions a series of examples from abroad, New York’s ‘Village Voice’ and the ‘Washington City Paper’ among them, as inspiration to the endeavour. “We’ve adapted it to fit to Dublin, I think”.
Even a cursory look at the site shows the truth of her statement. The latest issue, for example, features Lois’ interview with Panti Bliss’ dressmaker. Recent editions include reports on the traffic plans for College Green, the future of the former Exchange Dublin site in Temple Bar, and the membership of the National Transport Authority, which had been less than forthcoming from the Department of Transport. Meanwhile, nestled among all this exposition of the inner life of the city, the site features high-quality arts and cultural coverage, along with the occasional, less quotidian project, for example a recent article from Nasir Jamal, chief reporter of Pakistani paper ‘The Dawn’, explaining the phenomenon of emigration from his country to places like Ireland.
Kapila explains the mission and the self image of the Inquirer as lying the intersection of Dublin journalism’s 3-way Venn diagram; fitting into the market between local papers aimed at older demographics, national papers which by nature can not devote time and space to specifically Dublin issues, and Dublin-based publications aimed at younger people but focusing exclusively on the cultural side of the tracks. She sums up the mission of the paper in one, admittedly highly hyphenated word: “free-for-all”.
Kapila herself is a native of the Fens in the east of England. Studying in Oxford and the London School of Economics, she worked for publications and business around the world, living in Kyrgyzstan, India, Washington DC, Russia and France before coming to Dublin about two and a half years ago. Freelancing around the city, the concept of the Dublin Inquirer began to come together in 2014, as she worked towards a business plan to back up the publication.
“I’d never written a business plan – had never even considered writing one”, she says, but things quickly came together. She was helped and advised by “kind, helpful, patient people around the city. I’m not sure whether any of them believed I was actually going to launch this thing some day. It was only after six or nine months of work” on the plan, that she says “I started to believe it was going to happen, myself”. This May, the paper’s team had been formed, and the first issue came out in early June.
If one thing marks the Inquirer out from the glut of superficially similar publications around the city, it is likely their commitment to hard, shoe-leather reportage and investigation into the cogs and gears of the city. Kapila cites as her favourite projects the ‘really geeky ones’, for example an article with Willy Simon about the Irish Parking Association’s claims about how the changes to city-centre traffic will affect local business. Another is a piece by Damien Murphy about homeless people being put up in hotels by the Council feeling like second class citizens.
Clickbait it ain’t. The Inquirer has through this honest, sincere journalism managed to build a loyal following in the city only 5 months into its public existence. And it’s still early days.
Words: Charlotte Ryan, Cathal Kavanagh