‘Quality journalism for smart Australians, for free? Advertisers are very interested’: Seven launches digital news publication

Seven has announced the launch of The Nightly, a new national digital news platform that promises “premium, quality journalism to Australians – for free.”

The Nightly is a digital weeknight newspaper, as well as a 24/7 website, and news app.

It will focus on politics, policy, business and culture, with an editorial team that includes former editor-in-chief of The Australian, Christopher Dore, Sarah Blake, Matthew Quagliotto, Kristen Shorten, Wenlei Ma, and Ben McClellan.

They will also dip into Seven’s wider stable, with the likes of David Koch, Gemma Acton, Michael Usher, Leigh Matthews, and Justin Langer all contributing.


The Nightly’s editor-in-chief is Anthony De Ceglie, the current (and continuing) editor-in-chief of West Australian Newspapers. Former business editor of The West Australian, Sarah-Jane Tasker, has been appointed as editor of The Nightly.

The starting point for The Nightly, De Ceglie tells Mumbrella, was seeing the “incredible popularity of the digital newspaper” readership for the West Australian – Seven’s Perth-based daily newspaper.

“One in five people now who say they read the West Australian newspaper — you know, in terms of page one, page four, or five, page 13 — they’re reading it as a digital newspaper on their phone,” De Ceglie explains.

He clarifies these readers aren’t scrolling the website rather than buying the daily print edition. They are swiping through PDF pages of the newspaper. It’s the curation of the form itself, rather than the unfiltered sprawl of your average 24/7 news website, that the readers are seemingly drawn towards.

“The success of that has grown. Every year, it grows, every day it grows. And I think newspapers all around the world are saying the same thing.”

De Ceglie notes how the Daily Mail in the UK actively tries to move readers from its print product via a QR code to the digital edition, printed on the third page.

“It means is you can have that newspaper effect, but you’re not printing the product, you’re not distributing the product. Paper costs, alone, have gone up substantially in the last couple of years.”

The idea to launch an East Coast, paywall-free, nightly news disrupter soon formed in the Perth newsroom.

Anthony De Ceglie

“Technically speaking, it allows you to launch a new newspaper, at relatively low cost,” De Ceglie reasons.

“And if we were going to do that, it would be interesting to do it on the East Coast,” he said, pointing out Seven West Media doesn’t have a publication there.

The ease of digital accessibility, the quant throwback appeal of an evening newspaper, and internal research and data that suggested more and more readers were consuming news content at night made The Nightly a worthy disrupter to launch.

“That idea of waking up in the morning, and reading the newspaper around the kitchen table just doesn’t really exist anymore,” De Ceglie notes. “You wake up in the morning: your life is chaotic, juggling school runs and daycare, drop offs, and emails, and rushing to get into work. And so, you know, people are reading more at night; they’re trying to get informed more at night, through podcasts, and binge-watching TV shows, and that sort of stuff. And so we thought, ‘You know what, it all kind of makes sense’.”

Plus, there’s no paywall, De Ceglie promises “commonsense, mainstream middle” reporting, and they are powered by one of the country’s biggest media companies, who happen to have a nightly news bulletin that times nicely with the 6pm publish time of The Nightly.

“That’s the number one show across the country,” he says, of Seven’s 6pm news broadcast, “that we can use to tell people to download The Nightly.

“We really believe that there is a chance to disrupt the national audience with quality journalism, but for free.”

Despite what its name might conjure, The Nightly won’t just be a rundown of the day’s events.

De Ceglie says they will do it “in a slightly different way to the newspapers that are just sort of daily record of events”, aiming for more “investigative” pieces, evergreen reads, and “a lot more features”.

There are also content deals with The New York Times, who will offer up two pages of curated content, and The Economist.

“Our focus will be very much on like politics and policy in particular, business, culture, and sports,” explains Sarah-Jane Tasker, editor for The Nightly. She tells Mumbrella, that, along with a lifestyle section, they’ll have “a lot of those different touch points that people like to engage with anyway” in an average newspaper.

“But we’re very much mindful of the fact that we’re pitching this to that audience who are on their couch, at home, at night, and you’ve potentially got the TV on at the same time, but they’re kind of doing a scroll and wanting to read something different.

“And so whatever the story of the day is, how can we value-add to that? Can we have a well-known Seven journalist, or Seven talent, or one of our big-hitter journalists who we’ve hired, write that analysis piece: ‘Why should you care about the story?’, ‘What does it mean for you?’ Or ‘What aren’t they telling you?’

“And it’s just trying to think about how we produce that a bit differently to what we know, in terms of your daily newspapers, and how they approach copy.”

Sarah-Jane Tasker

The curation factor is important to both Tasker and De Ceglie, who both stress the delineation between the crisp offering of The Nightly and the constant feed of a 24/7 news source.

“People really liked the curation,” De Ceglie says. “They want to know what’s on page one, what’s on page three, what’s on six, seven, you know. In a world of chaos, and so much information and misinformation, they want a trusted brand to say, ‘Hey, this is this is what’s important today.'”

Advertisers also enjoy knowing there’s a page one, or indeed a page seven, on which to place their product.

“Nothing is more powerful, I don’t think, in journalism, than a strong front page,” De Ceglie reasons. “We’re really heartened, when we speak to advertisers, they totally understand the significance of what a digital newspaper brings to this equation: the power of a strip ad on page one, and the power of an ad on page two, or page six.

“It’s a space they know, and they love.”

And it’s a space both De Ceglie and Tasker know and love. He notes both her and Tasker have worked together at the West Australian for four years, with De Ceglie holding the reins for five.

“We’re really proud of how we do things at the West Australian, obviously, but, what we call it is ‘the mainstream middle’, you know, we like to think that it’s going to be quality journalism, common sense journalism; if we can offer quality journalism for smart Australians, for free – advertisers are very interested to hear about that.

“We’ve honed our craft for five years… We’re always trying to innovate. You know, our motto is ‘Total, non-stop innovation.’ And that’s got us to a point where, I think, we know how to put out a product that connects with middle Australia, doesn’t take them for granted, isn’t right wing, isn’t left wing.

“It’s just common sense quality journalism. And we think there’s room for that. I think there is room for a disrupter like us on the East Coast.”

The first issue of The Nightly comes out tonight at 6pm. Check out thenightly.com.au.


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