Native ads are the death of personal integrity, says architect of The Chaser’s return to print


Firth: Dirty native ads

The Chaser’s return to print will see it accept ads this time around – but will steer away from the “dirty” world of native advertising, the co-creator of the publication has said.

As Mumbrella reported yesterday, The Chaser Quarterly is to return after a decade-long hiatus in a project led by co-founder Charles Firth. This time round there will also be a digital paywall strategy alongside the publication.

The comedy troupe has turned to Pozible to crowdfund the relaunch with $6,782 already raised towards the $50,000 target.

Asked about the commercial strategy, Firth told Mumbrella’s Publish newsletter that he was highly sceptical of the trend towards native advertising. Proponents of native advertising argue that it is not the same as advertorial, because brands fund content that matches their audience interests, but is not about them.

But Firth said: “I feel very dirty every time I talk about or someone pitches me an idea that involves native advertising.

“I think it is the death of personal integrity. It would ruin everything. How could you be satirical and accept native advertising? It’d be awful.”

Asked abut the type of ads The Chaser Quarterly would seek, Firth said he was looking for “advertisers who don’t like advertising”. He joked: “One our of advertising guidelines is the product they’re seeking to advertise must be undermined by the ad. Not a single advertiser has approached us yet but we’re hopeful.”

Firth argued that the place of a print title is to offer timeless content that won’t be overtaken online.

He said: “The most successful publications, magazines of the last few years have been quarterly journals. There’s actually several of them. The thing that old magazines struggled with is they used to be a place where you found out things that were in the news cycle and those formats have completely failed to adapt or struggling to adapt,” Firth said.

“The whole idea that we’d put anything immediately topical in this is just absurd. It’s a quarterly – it’s supposed to be on your coffee table, it’s something that you can pick up at any time.”

chaser newspaperThe Chaser team published 99 editions of a Chaser paper between 1999 and 2005, after identifying a gap in the market for long-form satirical writing.

The Chaser went on to create several ABC TV shows including The Chaser’s War On Everything, The Hamster Wheel and The Chaser’s Media Circus which is due to return shortly. Firth has not been involved in most of The Chaser’s TV projects and recently briefly worked for News Corp’s website

Asked why he was relaunching the publication, Firth said: “To be a little bit more earnest for one second, the world doesn’t suffer from the banality of evil, the world suffers from the evil of banality. My Facebook feed is full of just crap.”

Citing his time writing for earlier in the year, Firth said: “The pressures to create clickbaity stuff is just so extraordinary.”

“There is a gap not just in Australia but in the world for long-form satirical writing. There’s very few places in the world where you get that and that’s my favourite form of writing,” he said.

“We live in satirical times, how can we possibly remain silent while Team Australia continues to run our country and Donald Trump prepares to take the Oval Office?”

Returning contributors to the publication will include David Stewart, Shane Cubis, Andrew Hansen, Chris Taylor, Craig Reucassel, Fiona Katauskas, Andrew Weldon, Oliver Watts, Johanna Featherstone and Gregor Stronach.

“Pretty much everyone has contributed to the first edition but the Media Circus responsibilities means Julian [Morrow] won’t be writing anything for this edition but we have a great idea for him for the second edition,” Firth said.

The Chaser QuarterlyThe paper will launch in October if the Pozible campaign is a success, with the paper to be available at newsagents and via subscription for an annual fee of $75.

Asked about online plans, Firth said: “It’s a leaky paywall. We’re going to start with a New Yorker model which is 10-free articles per edition and then you max out and hit the paywall.”

“The format is quite a lot of smaller articles and three big tent pole pieces per edition and they’ll be behind the paywall the whole time, you won’t be able to access those without subscribing. As they get older, we will release them from behind the paywall for a week in order to promote them across social media.”

Firth said more details of The Chaser’s digital plans would come in a few weeks.

Miranda Ward


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