$50k to buy the paper. Media Watch last night carried an item about what seems to have been quite a giveaway by The West Australian in Perth. Lucky winners could “win” $50,000 a day if they managed to beat amazing odds. But Media Watch missed the most important reason for the giveaway in September. That month was the final of the September quarter. Newspaper circulations are measured quarterly, so what Seven West Media and its WA management have tried to do is artificially boost the number of papers sold in the final month of the quarterly circulation period.

The Monday-to-Friday West Australian sold 164,107 copies in the June quarter, down from the 178,385 in June 2013. The weekend paper sold 270,541 copies in the June 2014 quarter, down from 290,356 a year earlier. But the even more import revenues and earnings were down much more. The Seven West Media annual report shows West Australian Newspapers suffered a 12.4% slide in revenues in 2013-14 and a nasty 23.9% slump in earnings before interest and tax. Trying to limit those falls by boosting circulations is what the gold rush in September promotion was all about. Media Watch estimated the promotion cost $145,000, and an additional $65,000 in prizes. That’s a total of $210,000, which will have to be added to the 2014-15 costs at the West! Of course there’s also the cost of all the extra copies printed in the month and preparing the ads scattered throughout the paper. — Glenn Dyer

BBC expands Down Under. The BBC has launched a new front page for Australian viewers, “dedicated to giving you more news and features about Australia”, as well as gathering up Australian coverage in the one spot. Appointed to edit the new section is former Sydney Morning Herald chief of staff and deputy arts editor Wendy Frew, one of a slew of senior reporters who left Fairfax in 2012.

There’s no mention of any extra journalists hired as part of the change. The Beeb has an Australian corespondent in Jon Donnison, who replaced the high-profile Nick Bryant in 2013, but also publishes copy from Australian freelancers. “We’re making the changes because Australia is home to one of our largest and most loyal audiences, and we want the BBC News website to better serve their interests and expectations,” BBC News Online world editor Angus Foster told readers.

The move seems to have upset the BBC’s home-grown audience, who feel very strongly that the money from their licence fee shouldn’t pay for an expansion here. In an update to his original post, Foster reassures readers that the expansion is paid for by advertising, “which appears on BBC sites outside the UK”. This seems to have placated the BBC’s British readers, but Crikey can’t help but think Australia’s ad-funded publishers can’t be thrilled about further sharing the pie.

The BBC is already one of Australia’s most popular news websites, as shown by Nielsen figures. In August, it was the 10th most popular news website, with a unique audience of 1.689 million readers a month. — Myriam Robin

How little do you need to upload a story? In the age of digital-first publishing, the smallest bit of major news needs to be up as quickly as possible. As Gough Whitlam’s death was revealed shortly after 8am this morning in a statement from his family, major news websites scrambled to get something (or anything, really) online. AAP’s first story on the former prime minister’s death was just 10 words long, and stated Whitlam’s age along with the news. But it was speedily uploaded to Fairfax’s news websites at 8.14am. The Australian, no fan of Fairfax’s digital-first approach, also reported the news speedily. A two-line piece was uploaded at 8:09am — as well as AAP’s opening sentence, it described Whitlam as “an icon of the Labor party” and gave the dates of his prime ministership. Later all these pages would be replaced with more considered prose, and the AAP copy would give way to publisher’s own star reporters.

Video of the day. Because really, could there be any other …

Front page of the day. The Spectator Australia on the ABC.

 

Peter Fray

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