The West Australian is making a play to enter the national market, taking on a paywall model, while remaining hyper local in focus.
Senior editor for West Australian Newspapers Anthony De Ceglie took up his position two months ago, and believes his biggest task will be setting up a paywall for thewest.com.au, sometime in the middle of this year.
His challenge will be all about persuading readers that what they have up to now enjoyed for free can’t stay that way, he tells Mumbrella.
“Putting The West [Australian] behind a paywall for the first time and getting that to work, and properly communicating to the audience why we are doing it and why it’s the future of journalism, why we need their support and why the money is worth it [is the biggest challenge],” De Ceglie says.
But, like any good editor, he sees content as the key to conveying that message to readers.
“We have a really big, big murder case over here in the middle of the year – the Claremont serial killer trial.”
“We know true crime is such a big driver of subscriptions and such a big driver of eyeballs and audiences that I really want to have us behind the paywall before them, so we can explain to our readers why that journalism is actually worth their money,” De Ceglie explains.
“I really believe that at the end of the day the one thing we know is that news works, and that people devour news. They are probably devouring more news than they ever have, it’s just about how we get that news to them and convince them it is worth paying for,” he adds.
Introducing the paywall is perhaps the biggest of a series of challenges for De Ceglie, who leads a newsroom of some 260 staff, all of Seven West Media titles, The West Australian, The Sunday Times, perthnow.com.au, as well as 19 regional publications.
One of the essentials for future success, he believes, is to boost regional reporting, by tapping into content from highly respected local titles, both as a way to engage reporters, and to give readers what they want – and that means more subscriptions.
And being able to go hyper-local is key. “When you write something that is hyper-local, at the very least you know that the mum, dad, family and friends will buy a subscription,” he says.
That’s an old newspaper concept – get as many faces in a photo as possible and everyone will buy a paper. But in today’s battle for eyeballs, the game is rather different. And it’s mostly online.
“Online news – you are either making money off subscriptions or you are making money off display advertising,” De Ceglie says. “And display advertising really only works on those young, funky websites, where people can target younger audiences.”
“There is the potential we can have a win–win, where perthnow.com.au fully embraces what we know advertisers want, and The West becomes a destination for subscription journalism.”
“It’ll be fun exploring it.”
Sourced from Mumbrella