COME SURFING WITH ... Lawrence Lever: After using video-on-demand for 18 months, Lawrence Lever,editor-in-chief of digital publisher, can't imagine going back to 'real' TV

Living in north-west London, I was fortunate enough to be part of a trial for a video-on-demand company called Home Choice. They installed an ADSL modem in my home 18 months ago and quite a few other things, judging by the number of set-top boxes crammed in and around our TV.

Living in north-west London, I was fortunate enough to be part of a trial for a video-on-demand company called Home Choice. They installed an ADSL modem in my home 18 months ago and quite a few other things, judging by the number of set-top boxes crammed in and around our TV.

I've been an avid user of it ever since. As the slogan says, it enables me to watch what I want, when I want, rather than being a slave to the TV schedule. It is reasonably priced, and since my wife and I pay so much in fines for late returns of videos, it probably saves us money.

I hardly watch real TV any more. It's a bit like having a BBC archive in your living room. I expect eventually that we'll be able to build our own television schedules.

Email is probably the new-media tool I use most regularly. It is brilliant, but not without its drawbacks. If something goes wrong, I far prefer to speak to people face-to-face. Email can escalate issues rather than resolve them.

Also, I think that people can sometimes hide behind emails. Instead of making that difficult phone call, they send an email. It's easier to handle rejection that way.

The internet has become so much a part of my everyday life. I look at rival sites to benchmark what we are doing against them, but also to check what people are saying about us.

The financial bulletin boards are full of people discussing Citywire's stories, so it's kind of free customer research.

I joined The Times in 1985, when we were still knocking out copy on manual typewriters with carbon paper. The library smelt of newspaper cuttings that were decades old. Now, online libraries, such as Lexis-Nexis and Factiva, give it you all in an instant.

Citywire subscribes to a huge number of these services - I want the team to focus all its energy on what is not in the public domain, rather than hunting down what is already there. Then they can focus on adding real value to their stories.

In my field, there has been a revolution. The democratisation of financial information means that stockbrokers can no longer charge huge commissions just because they have a stock exchange screen and you don't. Middlemen cannot charge three per cent commission on funds when many online providers waive most, if not all, of the charge.

Financial services institutions have to fight a lot harder to retain customers and get new ones.

For the canny investor, the net can provide a lot of good investment opportunities, so long as you know how to filter out the noise. But I don't believe that newspapers are history.

Ultimately, it's about talented people who are able to provide value-adding, proprietary content, and whether they work for newspapers or a digital publishing business such as ours is largely irrelevant.


This is a great specialist publisher of books of Jewish interest. You can browse by title, author or new release. You can read sample chapters, buy at 25 per cent off the retail price and not lose the benefit through expensive mailing charges. The publishers are in the US, but I ordered on Saturday night and the books arrived on Wednesday.

For more general books, I prefer to go to real book shops because I like the smell of new books.

Web address:

Developer: Mayer Pasternak

It's worth paying the pounds 5 delivery charge to get massive, totally unmemorable supermarket shopping done for you. It is delivered straight to your kitchen table, and the system is remarkably easy to use. I can't comment on some of the reports that online food is not always as fresh as it should be - we're not great checkers of sell-by dates, as is evident from the two-month-old cabbage I found recently in the fridge.

Web address:

Developer: designercity


My kids love games on the internet, particularly this one on called internet reversi. Black counters fight for world domination with white counters, flipping each other over. It is a lot of fun because the outcome can be uncertain right to the very end. We've just bought the board game equivalent, called Othello. My daughter Bella prefers the board game because you get to play with someone you know.

A message there for the internet community perhaps?

Web address:

Developer: In-house


The entire Lever family - all five of us - flew to Italy last year for pounds 150, courtesy of this site. Previously we'd paid pounds 750 for the journey. If you have kids, they let you on the plane first, so it doesn't matter that the seating is not pre-allocated. Since then, we've been offered flights to Geneva for pounds 1 per person. It allows a few minutes of fantasy before I remember I don't actually have the time to go away. The site also offers facilities such as hotel bookings and ordering foreign currency.

Web address:

Developer: In-house.

Become a member of Campaign from just £51 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content