Page 68 - Print 21 Magazine Sep-Oct 2018
P. 68

Doris Prodanovic
beyond ownership games
Mergers, takeovers, consolidations and more; the tectonic plates of the Australian news media are shifting, and shaking the ownership landscape. Doris Prodanovic asks what this means for regional and community titles, and how their value is being recognised by its owners.
Regional papers reign
the Australian Financial Review. The potential for a similar business model development in the regional market is definitely there.”
NewsMediaWorks’ AdTrust research, as supported by Neilsen’s emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) data, reveals readers’ trust increased for both community and regional newspapers over the past year, the increases averaging 17.5 per cent for content and 12.5 per cent for advertising.
Miller mentions an upcoming regional roadshow in October to enhance the experience of regional mastheads and advertisers of these areas, bringing them closer to the metro market. “We want to take this roadshow around the regional and metro markets and share the great narrative of these regional areas,” he says. “Though this market has been
hit with harder challenges, Australian publishers are nimble in their strategies for both print and digital. By positioning regional titles as part of the strategic thinking rather than an afterthought
in their media planning, the economic value of regional advertisers and the size of this market can remind publishers of that value.”
Perhaps it is the trust and accessibility to these titles in regional areas, which poses its value as
one so powerful and vital in these communities. Where else will the local sports team’s win be lauded if not in their local newspaper? And where else will government budget breakdowns focus in on a specific community and its demographic?
In addition, the opportunity for investigative reporting - as seen
by the Walkley-winning Newcastle Herald story on the RAAF base contaminating the water supply - proven possible by any masthead, regardless of its categorisation as regional, metro, or other.
The future of regional publishing lies with its media owners and recognition of their value seems to have been brought to the forefront now more than ever. “There have been a lot of challenges in recent years,
but the worst is behind them,” says Miller. “Regional titles are healthier and producing a good result for their publishers. The key is to match the value proposition and economic value, and in turn, building the understanding of how to best reach this market and helping it grow.” 21
When the major Nine-Fairfax merger was announced in July, Nine chief executive Hugh Marks suggested regional newspapers would fit better in 'some other environment'. More than a third
of the Australian population reads regional news media, yet these community mastheads, the hub in the habitat they publish in, continue to see closures around the country.
Following the recent agreement to share some of its printing facilities
with Fairfax, new rumours in creating a regional publishing giant teamed with News Corp are in the air and drizzled in potential. If logistics costs can be shared, can the illustrious ‘other environment’ for regional news publishing be found
in standing together and away from its present owners?
“It would be an interesting scenario
Lifeline: Regional newspapers
Though there may be certain successes, it is hard to argue with the reality of ongoing closures. Only last month did Seven West Media and News Corp owned Western Australia’s Community News Group close five
of its titles. Undoubtedly, print publishing is a costly business, but Miller assures the industry support
for regional news remains strong
from the publishers, both in print
and as a digital equivalent. “Regional newspapers are the heartbeat of these areas and people are trusting of the titles,” he says. “Logistically, publishers are aiming for a quadrilla effect, of revenue success in advertising and newspaper sales across both print
and digital. We are seeing this success particularly with The Australian and
and hypothetically, it could be a powerful media offering,” says NewsMediaWorks CEO Peter Miller. With 25 years’ experience in news media, including senior roles at both News Corp and Fairfax, Miller leads the industry body representing Australia’s news media publishers, and promotes the value of news brands to advertisers and the
“Australian publishers are nimble in their strategies for both print and digital”
public. He says, “The regional news sectors of all three publishers (Fairfax, News Corp, and Seven West Media’s West Australian Community News Group) are important, successful, and produce a lot of turnover. Whether combining the regionals is a better model than the one they are part of today, I am not sure. But it would need to be strategically analysed as
to how it could perform.”

   66   67   68   69   70