Features

Lifestyle and youth publishers rate The Teacher’s Pet as cream of the 2018 crop

As 2018 draws to a close, Mumbrella asks Australia's biggest lifestyle and youth publishers to reflect on their biggest stories and share favourites from outside their own four walls. No prizes for guessing which hit true crime podcast was the most popular.

Nicole Byers, editor-in-chief, The Australian Women’s Weekly

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

The most impactful story for us was our Natalie Joyce exclusive. This was a story the nation’s top television and newspaper teams had been chasing for months, but in a testament to the trust and credibility associated with The Weekly we were the only place Natalie felt comfortable telling her story. Coming as it did just weeks after her ex-husband Barnaby Joyce controversially went public with his staffer-turned-girlfriend and their baby in a tell-all television interview, public interest was huge. The story spread like wildfire resulting in 111 pieces of (organic) media coverage locally.

Part of Natalie’s decision to break her silence, and turn down big dollar offers elsewhere (her interview with The Weekly’s Lizzie Wilson was unpaid), was due to the fact it would run in our specially dedicated rural issue, featuring empowering and important stories from rural regions across the country.

What story are you the most proud of?

I’m proud of so many stories we’ve produced this year, but one that springs to mind in particular is our investigation into bullying. Sticks and Stones and Mobile Phones was written in response to 14-year-old Amy “Dolly” Everett’s shocking suicide, which occurred under circumstances which are becoming unsettlingly familiar.

Nominated for article of the year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards, journalist Genevieve Gannon crafted the story through the eyes of several victims’ families, weaving a wide range of expert insights alongside emotional personal accounts. This was done for the dual purpose of making readers aware of how cyber bullying could be affecting young people in their lives, and to examine how policymakers and the community are responding to this new phenomenon.

The result was a deeper insight into the scourge that is bullying in the digital world, and garnered a flood of feedback from readers. In what I consider high praise for a story like this, educational bodies reached out to ask if they could use this story as a teaching tool in their classrooms.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

At the risk of sounding predictable, and with no explanation required, I have to say The Teacher’s Pet.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

In a year dominated by ‘fake news’, data breaches and privacy scandals, and one in which faith in some of our highest institutions was shaken to the core, we saw a pivot to trust that represented a significant change to the industry at a macro level. It has seen some of our largest disrupters challenged like never before, and is resulting in a turn back to trusted sources of information, such as credible newspaper mastheads and legacy brands like The Australian Women’s Weekly.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

There has been so much disruption and change to the industry in the past five years or so, and in my experience the bigger and more dramatic the change, the more opportunities it creates. There are always going to be winners and losers when consolidations like this happen, and it’s too soon to predict what effect the Nine/Fairfax merger will have, but evolution is the only way we will survive as an industry. It’s certainly not a time for the feint hearted.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

With a proud 85-year history and a truly iconic status, The Weekly holds a pretty unique position in the market. With the kind of brand loyalty and trust others can only dream of, at a time when such values are coveted more than ever, The Weekly is in a strong position to not only survive but flourish. The key to traversing the shifting sands safely will be to constantly grow and evolve while staying true to the core values that make The Weekly the beloved heritage brand it is.

What is your prediction for next year?

I predict 2019 will be the year of bespoke content. Consumers increasingly want information and offerings tailored specifically to them, be that targeted aggregated content in the digital space, specialist TV shows or the rise of niche print titles that speak directly to different sub sets of the community.

Shauna Anderson, editor, 9Honey

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

9Honey’s biggest stories this year have been royal stories. The 9Honey audience has been incredibly interested in all aspects of the royal family – from the royal wedding on May 19, to the tour to Australia and of Harry and Meghan and, of course, the subsequent announcement of their pregnancy which sent our royal coverage into overdrive.

What story are you the most proud of?

Jetstar passenger with advanced prostate cancer kicked off flight. Earlier this year we were contacted by a woman upset at how her husband Kevin had been treated on a Jetstar flight. She came to 9Honey because she knew we treated stories like this with care and respect and they know we will help give a voice to their experiences in a way they can trust.

And, of course, 9Honey’s collaboration with hit show Married at First Sight. From our recaps, to our own show, Talking Married, to a podcast, it shows just how multi-dimensional 9Honey can be, and how we are in a unique place to utilise what is on offer across the Nine business.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

The biggest, and best story this year was the Thai Cave rescue, especially as it had a happy ending. 9News had incredible coverage of the rescue efforts of the boys – it had everything from the tragic death of one of the Navy Seals, to the heroic efforts of the Aussie involved, to the minute the boys began to come out.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

One of the biggest industry changes in the last year, for us, was the new digital content rating, the new metric that includes numbers from off platform.

Obviously, the other massive change was the Nine acquisition of Fairfax that has forever altered the Australian media landscape.

This year we saw your company become one of the biggest in the Australian media landscape: Is consolidation an opportunity or threat for other publishers?

It’s neither an opportunity nor a threat when it comes to 9Honey, we are planning on just continuing doing what we do, listening to our audiences, and providing the best in lifestyle content in Australia.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

It is business as usual for us. We are already a network that is totally different from our competitors, we offer such a larger scale of what we can offer than our direct competitors, with our unique TV content, our podcasts, our website and our ability to connect with such a large range of Australians that we plan to just continue to strive to be the best , most accessible, broad market lifestyle network in the country.

Simon Crerar, general manager, BuzzFeed Australia

Simon Crerar

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

Melbourne-based reporter Christine Kenneally spent four years seeking the truth about Catholic orphanages in Vermont. Her bombshell investigation has been read around 6 million times since publication in August, making it one of BuzzFeed’s biggest articles of the year. It also topped Bloomberg’s Jealousy List of stories they wished they’d done this year!

What story are you the most proud of? 

Lane Sainty’s series of scoops revealing child refugees on Nauru suffering a rare psychological illness known as “resignation syndrome” kickstarted a national conversation. Discussions in Canberra will continue when parliament (eventually) returns in 2019.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

I loved Jane Mayer’s definitive New Yorker profile of Christopher Steele, the man behind the Trump Dossier. Closer to home, I learned a lot from James Button’s Walkley-winning deep dive into Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs for The Monthly.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

Profound changes to algorithms have seen publishers increasingly focus on cross-platform audience and diversified revenue. BuzzFeed now has a daily show on Twitter, a weekly chat show on Facebook Watch, and a hit series on Netflix, with more to come in 2019. In 2018 we launched a book club with Amazon, and our commerce division launched cookware with Walmart and homeware with Macy’s, among other projects.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

Moves that position publishers to thrive adjacent to Facebook and Google are desirable, and inevitable. Publishers making moves to shore up their future can only be a good thing: regardless of the changing landscape, good journalism will always be a necessity for a healthy democracy.

What is your prediction for next year?

We’ll get to December 2019 and everyone will be like “this was the worst year ever” (just like the end of 2016, ’17 and ’18). Dumpster fires will continue to burn, and audiences and advertisers will increasingly find safety with brands they trust.

Mia Freedman, co-founder and chief creative officer, Mamamia

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

If you think ball-tampering is our national sporting shame, you haven’t met Matt Lodge.

Holly Wainwright is our head of content and she wrote a story at Easter that went viral like I’ve never seen. We were so proud of it because it took a massive news story but put a Mamamia spin on it.

The story was read more than 730,000 times (and still counting), plus Apple News and MSN coverage, and it changed the national conversation.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

Almost certainly Hedley Thomas’s reporting of The Teacher’s Pet podcast. Not an original answer, but Hedley’s investigative journalism has not only resulted in charges being laid in a long-cold case, but it also exposed a culture of sexual abuse between teachers and teen students as well as issues surrounding domestic violence that until now was dismissed as “the way things were back then”. Thomas deserves his Gold Walkley. And the Australian must be commended for supporting his work.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

Consolidation makes sense for the big corporates, in competition with the FAANG from across the pond. It’s an opportunity for smaller, owned and operated publishers like ourselves, who can engage audiences with a more nimble, responsive creativity, and a more distinctive tone of voice.

What is your prediction for next year?

The arrival of 5G will spin everything even faster, and open up more opportunities for mobile-first creators and brand partners.

Melissa Wilson, executive editor, Whimn

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

In August this year, Australians were angry about paying for 15 cent plastic bags. That was the same week four women had been murdered in their own home. Yet the issue that garnered public outcry was the plastic bag ban. This impactful opinion piece ‘If Only Dead Women Were Plastic Bags Maybe We’d Give A Shit’ by Bek Day for whimn.com.au shared a different point of view and made it clear that what we should actually be angry about is body bags not shopping bags.

What story are you the most proud of?

In June Kidspot.com.au ran an exclusive about a cancer-conquering single mum who had just lost her childcare subsidy. This powerful story had an incredible reaction from our readers on social media, many of whom have also experienced ongoing issues with Centrelink. The mother wrote a letter to thank us for sharing her story and as a result of this article she got her benefit back. I’m so proud that we were able to use our reach to make such a profound difference in someone’s life.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

It didn’t take home the well-deserved awards Sharri Markson did for her Barnaby Joyce scoop, but this incredible opinion piece ‘Daniel Morcombe’s mum brutally attacked over tweet posted on her eldest son’s wedding day’ by Alex Carlton for news.com.au really stood out for me. It’s something we see all too often on our social media channels, readers quick to judge other people’s words and actions. The response to her innocent and loving post was horrific and I hope that Alex’s article will make people think twice before hiding behind their keyboards.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

Multiple social media algorithm changes this year have forced publishers to look to other traffic referral sources. The way that readers consume their news has changed significantly this year and we’ve had to adapt quickly.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

Consolidation is an opportunity for publishers to adapt and take a closer look at how they’re operating and how they can improve. From a WHIMN perspective, we’re going to continue to focus on the consumer, work on editorial growth and reach and look at new ways to drive traffic.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

The fact that we are the leading women’s network in the country proves that what we’re doing already sets us apart from the competition, so we’ll continue to do what we do best, provide timely, accurate and thought provoking content for Australian women.

What is your prediction for next year?

The #metoo movement has dominated women’s hearts and headlines in 2018 – and 2019 is going to be the year for rebuilding and rising from the ashes. We’ve begun the work of fighting back against decades of systemic abuse, and for the first time we have a chance to set the agenda. If 2018 was the year for women’s anger, 2019 is the year we prove just how industrious we can be. #bigchickenergy

Wendy Syfret, head of editorial, Vice Australia

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

In terms of direct impact, our piece about all Australian citizens being legally entitled to a portrait of the Queen was a stand out. We’ve never seen a piece go so globally viral, and become such a cultural moment. For weeks we were getting emails and photos of sharehouses hanging their portraits. I did feel a bit bad for all the staff who had to mail them.

More broadly, Mahmood Fazal’s ongoing column Inside Outsider has been really evocative. His articles on crime, criminals and prisoners have asked the readers to consider who we consider “bad” and the way we all passively disenfranchise members of our community. My favourite content makes you question things you thought you knew to be true, this series does that constantly.

What story are you the most proud of?

Our local, feature-length documentary on the ‘Stay Inn‘ was really moving and beautiful. It was one of the largest shoots we’ve ever worked on, having embedded for months with the staff at the Melbourne motel. Every member of the team touched that project, and their respect for the residence is so visible — it felt like a great example of working with a community to help people tell their own stories.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

I have an (arguably) bad habit of always asking “what’s next?” So my answer to questions like this are usually only taking into account the past couple of months. But a recent piece that really blew me away was the New York Times’ look at China and how the American Dream came true there. I can’t stop thinking about it, and feel like every conversation I have somehow related back to the points they raised.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

I’ve seen a real public reckoning of personal responsibility within media. I think it’s been a combination of the conversations the Me Too movement started, but the media taking stock of our role in this cultural “echo chamber”. As an editorial team we ask ourselves why do I believe this? What role does my voice play here? It’s easy to believe your instincts on a topic are always right. But it’s more interesting to challenge yourself to see the issue from another angle.

What is your prediction for next year?

I think we’re going to see some really cool breakthroughs with environmental reporting. It’s long been a tricky topic to get readers to really engage with, but across 2018 we’ve seen people take responsibility for their own role in protecting our planet. I can’t wait to see that enthusiasm flow back to the way they support the journalists investigating climate change.

Rob Stott, managing editor, Junkee Media

What story are you the most proud of?

Sam Langford’s investigation into Pressed Juices took a lot of time and hard work. The final product was a thorough and damning report on underpayment and non-payment of workers. It shows what Junkee is capable of in this space.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

Sharri Markson’s scoop about Barnaby Joyce’s child set the tone for the year. The Coalition had shocking 2018 and it all started with this story. The Tele made the right call in publishing.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

The growing realisation that companies like Facebook aren’t always our friends. We’ve known they’re taking a larger share of ad revenue for a long time, but we also can’t rely on them for traffic. I’d rather invest in writers and journalists than hope the Facebook algorithm is going to do me a favour.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

Mergers like this always mean fewer journalism jobs, which is never a good thing. But they also present an opportunity to smaller publishers to use the resources that only a large publisher like Nine can offer. At Junkee Media we’ve expanded greatly since we formed a relationship with Ooh Media and I expect that growth to continue next year, which is exciting.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

I think our relationship with Ooh sets us apart from our competitors. We’ve got a huge opportunity to expand into public space media, which is a unique proposition in the Australian landscape. On a more micro level, I’d like to conduct more investigations like Sam’s, and invest more in writers and journalists. 2019 will be all about pushing into new spaces and expanding our footprint.

Linda Smith, editor, that’s life!

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

One of the most impactful was “Drugged so he could abuse my girl” back in July. It’s a classic that’s life! story: compelling and beautifully written. As is so often the case with stories involving children, we had to keep everyone anonymous for legal reasons. But the mum was passionate about sharing her harrowing and deeply personal story to alert other parents to the often subtle signs of abuse.

In terms of 360-degree impact, it’s probably our interview with the woman who married the half-brother she didn’t know she had – a classic case of Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA). This drove huge audience numbers online, both via SEO and social. Five months later, it is still getting traffic.

What story are you the most proud of?

I’m most proud that we share so many stories of domestic abuse, a shocking crime that tragically claims the life of one Australian woman every week. that’s life!’s brilliant team of reporters have secured some extraordinary stories this year. We also launched a campaign, Operation CoCo, to highlight the impact of emotional abuse via coercion and control, which can be just as damaging and potentially lethal as physical abuse.

Favourite cover of the year?

Our Christmas issue. It’s one of our most recent, but it’s gorgeous and has a great mix of stories for this time of year. I shed a few happy tears when I read our story of the 72-year-old ballerina.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

The success of The Teacher’s Pet podcast and the charging of Chris Dawson over the disappearance of his wife, Lyn in 1982. The whole case highlights the power of podcasting, an area we have entered into this year with great results. Our How I Survived podcast series has been hugely successful both in Australia and internationally. We’re already working on a second series.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

Definitely podcasts. There is a huge and growing appetite for these from clients and consumers. The growth has been phenomenal in just the last year.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

From a digital perspective, we’ll be concentrating more on SEO for our real-life stories and evergreen content, of which there are many. We will also continue to expand our syndication business.

In a media world that is cluttered with so much ‘churnalism’, there is a real hunger for genuine real-life stories, both in Australia and overseas. We’ve sold our original stories to the UK, the US and South Africa, and we are looking to expand that growing market. We’ve also been blown away by the success of our first foray into podcasting, so I see that as an area of growth for us

What is your prediction for next year?

I don’t need a crystal ball for this one as we are launching a new monthly magazine in January. I predict it will be the most successful thing Pacific does next year!

Genevra Leek, editor, Elle

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

Elle dedicated the August issue to sustainability, highlighting the small changes that each of us can make in our everyday lives to combat climate change. Led by the magazine, the #ELLETimeToAct social campaign supported the initiative across Instagram and online at elle.com.au with an incredible response from followers pledging the everyday change they were making to help save our planet. Friends of the brand including cover star Jenna Dewan, celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, Phoebe Tonkin, and Jess and Ashley Hart got involved to help spread the word that climate change is real – and it’s already here.

What story are you most proud of?

It’s a given that Elle champions women and the causes we care about in every issue and across all platforms but each year we celebrate the incredible successes women are experiencing in a dedicated portfolio as part of our We Are Women initiative. This year we asked, who are the women behind the women who captured our attention this year? Who shaped them, taught them, challenged them, and believed in them? The special included some incredibly accomplished women including artist Yvette Coppersmith, journalist Tracey Spicer, CEO Shamini Rajarethnam, sportswoman Sam Bloom and comedian Celeste Barber paying tribute to the women behind the women.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

The meticulous work done late last year by New York Times investigative reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, along with The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, to unveil sexual harassment in Hollywood has reverberated through 2018 and subsequently mobilised women and the Me Too movement, proving that journalism matters.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

It’s been incredible to see publications more than ever acting as a force for change in the areas of sustainability, diversity, inclusivity and women’s rights.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

The changing media landscape provides an opportunity to double down on strengths, shore up weaknesses and look at things from a new perspective. The audience is consuming media differently so we need to be proactive and forward thinking in delivering what the readers, followers and fans want and how they are going to want it.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

Elle is about innovation and will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in print and online. In 2019, optimism has never been more crucial and that’s the feeling we want you to take away upon encountering the brand.

What is your prediction for next year?

The media players with a point of view will be the ones hitting goals in 2019.

Nicky Briger, editor, Marie Claire

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

“The Silence Breakers” where we highlighted the Australian women speaking out against injustice in the era of #metoo. Their stories were not only shocking, but inspirational due to their bravery and dogged determination.

What story are you the most proud of?

In “The Year We Said I Do”, we celebrated the anniversary of marriage equality by talking to seven couples who tied the knot this year. Marriage equality was an issue we championed at marie claire for nearly a decade, so it was quite emotional reading their stories and hearing first-hand the impact this legal change has made to their lives.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

I’m sure everyone will be united on this answer: The Australian’s “Teachers Pet” podcast was not only thrilling and ground-breaking, it made a real difference. I was obsessed with it, as was everyone. It shows the power of investigative journalism, media and new platforms such as podcasts.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

At Pacific, it’s been the introduction of our consumer data platform Seventh Sense where we’re making our traditional media brands more measurable. As an industry, we know the power and influence of our mastheads but to be able to show the direct impact of them in the path to purchase is a powerful tool for clients and agencies.

What’s your favourite cover of the year?

Kick-starting a huge year of Australian cover stars for Marie Claire, our Jesinta and Buddy Franklin exclusive was a definite highlight in 2018. After turning down dozens of offers to be shot together, the country’s golden couple opted to share their unique love story with us and open up about the personal challenges they’ve faced down together. From mental health to awkward dates, no topic was off limit and helped generate national headlines and extensive PR pick-up for the issue.

Sarrah Le Marquand, editor-in-chief, Stellar magazine

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

I’m going to resist the temptation to nominate a piece from recent memory and instead go back a whole 47 issues to Stellar’s first cover of the year, which was the much sought after first sit down with Lisa Wilkinson after her headline making defection from Nine to Ten. After we’d disappeared on our annual summer hiatus for a month, it was a powerful way to remind everyone that we were back for another year of news making exclusives, but was also firmly in keeping with our reputation for telling stories with a quintessentially Australian (and female-driven) sensibility.

What story are you the most proud of?

There was something undeniably unique and quietly subversive about having Barbie grace the cover of an issue celebrating International Women’s Day back in March. We had a huge response to our report on how the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements were resonating in Australia at that time, a serious topic tailored for the mass readership of a glossy magazine with a defiant cover line (“2018: the year women fought back”) balanced by a high-concept fashion shoot with the iconic doll as captured by Stellar’s creative team.

What was your best front page for 2018?

It’s hard to go past the tongue-in-cheek cover concept we used to illustrate our exclusive sit down with fallen political star Sam Dastyari in August.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

The Teacher’s Pet podcast. Even though I am personally not particularly interested in true crime podcasts (firmly placing me in the minority, clearly!), the tangible results it has led to for the family of Lyn Dawson is a credit to reporter Hedley Thomas and a reminder of the importance of investing in investigative journalism.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

Over the past year I have noticed an increase in public figures being very outspoken about fabricated stories appearing on online news sites and women’s magazines. There seems to be a growing intolerance for cheap and nasty stories that are based on nothing more than an out-of-context pap shot or a throwaway remark on Instagram. And it’s not just celebs fighting back about fake news – it’s the wider public who are hungry for genuine insights and shared experiences in actual interviews and stories.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

Pondering issues such as that is best left to the business analysts… and the too-much-time-on-their-hands navel gazers on Twitter. For those of us working in the media, all that matters is whether we are producing content that is engaging our audiences; that we are earning, building and maintaining the trust and respect of our readers/viewers/listeners; and that we are finding new ways to generate revenue and remain viable. If you are fortunate enough to be working for a media company who backs you in that mission, then focus on that and let others fret over the ABN.

How will your publication set itself apart in a changing and consolidating landscape?

We will continue to invest in exclusive and agenda-setting content and work closely with our host newspapers to deliver the country’s most read magazine every Sunday for our third consecutive year. We will be unveiling several new editorial initiatives to further engage with our consumers – primarily around events, partnerships and digital content (just this week we debuted a Stellar beauty video series on our social media platforms, which will continue over summer and into 2019).

What is your prediction for next year?

I think we will see a change in Australia’s defamation laws. Various events this past 12 months have exposed the often undemocratic nature of the restrictions muzzling journalists in this country – including, but not limited to, the capacity for victims of sexual harassment and abuse to speak up in the way they have in other parts of the world this past year. I believe the public’s mood on this issue is slowly changing and there will be a gradual march towards reform.

Julia Zaetta, editor-in-chief, Better Homes and Gardens

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

The best story of the year and one of the most impactful for Better Homes and Gardens was slow cooking. It’s not an enormous political story but for us, it’s the stuff people love. It’s trending and while slow cooking has been around forever, it continues to be incredibly popular. It’s always on our cover and it sells a lot of issues.

Something else that was really impactful was, for the first time in Better Homes and Gardens, we did a cruising special in the March issue. It was a flip book of 36 pages and our readers and advertisers loved it.

What is your favourite cover for the year?

My favourite cover of the year would have to be our slow-cooking cover for the July issue.

What story are you the most proud of?

We turned 40 this year and we had an issue dedicated to that. We looked back at the covers over the last 40 years as well as the decorating trends of the time and the foods. We did a lovely piece on the presenters of the Better Homes and Gardens TV show because, at the same time, they celebrated 1000 episodes. It was a celebration of 40 years of a lovely brand and a personal milestone for me as I clocked up my 39th year with the title. It’s been my heart and soul for ages.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

One of the most important stories of the year was about delaying the export of live sheep and working toward not letting that happen in the hot months.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

The print medium has been greatly affected by distribution in the past year. Four or five years ago, we had so many supermarket checkouts and now they’ve gone because of self-service checkouts and magazines are distributed differently without such a beautiful position. That’s affected us to a certain extent and I also think that newsagents closing, and there’s been a lot of them, in significant numbers. I’m not sure what we can do about that. I think we have to be vigilant as to where we go with our magazine so that they’re constantly on display for people to choose.

Fiona Baker, digital content director, Now to Love

What was your best story of the year and/or your most impactful?

We have stories that got hundreds of thousands, even millions, of clicks and were shared far and wide – but our coverage of Sophie Delezio this year has so engaged Australia and got the sort of traffic that breaking celebrity stories get – and that has warmed my jaded journo’s heart.

In a true cross-platform collaboration, print, digital, social and video worked together to show how the little girl, who suffered burns to 85% of her body at the age of two when a car ploughed into her day care centre, and then a few years later was hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing, has grown into a beautiful, brave and strong woman.

She shared her milestones and monumental moments with Woman’s Day, from getting her Learners’ Permit to going to formal, and our audience, across all platforms, have been with her all the way.

Aside from your publication, what was the best story this year?

I’m sure I won’t be alone in talking about the Chris Dawson case as the best thing to happen journalistically this year. I have thought more about Lynette Dawson, her kids, her disappearance than losing weight! When Chris Dawson’s arrest got announced, I got grand final-winning goose bumps.

What do you believe has been the biggest industry change in the last year?

From a digital editorial perspective, it has been the demise of Facebook as a tool to amplify our content. What this has meant, especially for a site that runs with the big kids but is still, from a scale point of view, not so big (we are not even two years old) is we have to work harder AND cleverer and create good quality content that enhances our brands, engages our audience and can be easily found via search.

The days of punching something out and throwing it up on Facebook and seeing immediate reach, engagement and clicks are gone. But what I hope this means is an improved quality of journalism on news media sites as we compete in an increasingly crowded “free-access-to-all” space for eyeballs/traffic/engagement/data.

This year we saw the merger of two of the biggest Australian media companies: Nine and Fairfax Media. Is consolidation a threat or an opportunity for publishers?

Consolidations like this certainly change the media landscape. From an editorial viewpoint it will be interesting to see what happens journalistically. From a publishing business viewpoint, it’s one I’m sure all publishers are considering – and where there is threat, there is also bound to be opportunities.

It’s such an interesting time in media generally and I think there will also be ongoing opportunities for partnerships in the future between Australian based media companies. For us at Bauer, the changing landscape and continual need to challenge our approach in order to compete, has strengthened our focus on what we know we are great at – creating high quality interesting, informative and entertaining content for our growing highly engaged audience and clients.

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