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Hoopla founders to launch quarterly newspaper for girls in ‘radical and risky’ move

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.37.39 AMWe Magazines, the publisher of female focused websites The Hoopla and Birdee, is to launch a quarterly tabloid newspaper for girls after research revealed there was demand for a print publication among its 16-24 year-old readers.

The first print issue of Birdee will go on sale in the week beginning December 4 and have a print run of 20,000. The cover price for the 40-page newspaper will be $4.

We Magazines co-founder and publisher Jane Waterhouse described the project as “radical and risky, but exciting” and said she hoped to take the newspaper monthly if it proves successful. It will be the publisher’s second product aimed at girls following the launch of online site Birdeemag.com last year.

“People kept telling us that our demographic  is walking away from print, but we did research and they overwhelmingly asked us ‘when are you going to turn Birdee into print’,” she told Mumbrella. “This demographic spend their life looking at screens but, strangely, they also like to read books and the thought of something tactile is really appealing to them.”

Rather than the commonly-held belief that young women are walking away from print, Waterhouse argued it was more a case of there not being a suitable publication in the market.

“Nothing is speaking their language. There is nothing they feel is talking to them,” she said. “Our writers are not experienced journalists but those who are young, up and coming writers who are speaking the language of the audience they are writing for. Our journalists are talking to their peers.

“This is the first tabloid newspaper for girls and we think it will work.”.

Waterhouse said it chose a newspaper rather than magazine format in order to “disrupt the market” and because the content lent itself more to a news-style publication.

Content will include political and current affairs issues along with lifestyle, health and fashion.

Waterhouse admitted the project was risky given the untested nature of the product and described it as a “discovery strategy”.

“It is a radical idea and there is a risk,” she conceded. “But we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t have that push by the audience. We also haven’t gone out with a massive 100,000 print run so we are minimising the risk with 20,000 for the first issue.

“It will be quarterly initially but it would be great to take it monthly. But like anything in media it’s hard to have anything longer than a three-month plan.”

Launch advertisers include health food brand Aussie Body, Roadshow Home Entertainment and “small independent fashion” brands. Advertisers have reacted well to the idea, Waterhouse said.

Meanwhile, The Hoopla has altered its paywall in favour of a freemium strategy, with readers given three free articles each month before having to subscribe to access additional content.

Waterhouse admitted the paywall led to a huge decline in social sharing, particularly on Facebook, which saw subscriptions plateau after three months.

But since partnering with e-commerce platform Press Plus, which manages the back end customer service and adopting the freemium strategy, traffic has soared 350 per cent, she claimed.

Steve Jones

Jane Waterhouse is speaking at the Publish conference in Sydney tomorrow.

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