Subscribers to The Sydney Morning Herald and Age from today get access to brand new “Subscriber First” websites — sparser, more stylishly laid-out versions intended to showcase the best content in the publications.

Unlike the regular home pages, these subscriber-only websites will be updated at midnight, noon and breaking news events (as opposed to continuously as occurs with the main websites) and are meant to showcase the type of content subscribers are after.


Comparing the Age’s regular and Subscriber First websites this morning sees both prioritise Rio coverage, but beyond that, the subscriber had far more of a focus on Victorian stories, political analysis and exclusives. Missing from the sparser ‘Subscriber First’ homepage — Usain Bolt’s mother wanting to find him a wife, weather news, and an article on the good things about flying business class.

“Our subscribers are seeking to be informed and challenged by quality news breaking, analysis and commentary and different storytelling,” said Fairfax’s new subscriber editor David Rood.

“Subscriber First is not afraid to place a premium and priority on analysis and commentary to complement the news as it breaks. My aim is to curate that content and help subscribers make sense of the issues that matter in their city and across the world.”

The websites are one of a series of initiatives Fairfax is rolling out to appeal to subscribers. Also part of the plan are curated newsletters. One, by Good Weekend editor Amelia Lestor, will spruik the coming weekend’s best content on Friday afternoons (it’s already been running for six weeks), while the editors-in-chief of both papers are also to start weekly emails to subscribers that sound a lot like what Michael Stutchbury’s been doing at the Fin for yonks.