SXSW Sydney: News market big enough for new players ‘as long as the journalism is good enough’

Speaking on their “challenger” status against a media duopoly during a SXSW Sydney panel on Thursday, indie media bosses from Capital Brief and The Daily Aus were confident of their place in a rich and varied media diet.

Just two months after soft launching Scire’s debut publication to the public in August, Capital Brief’s chief business officer and Scire co-founder David Eisman joined editor-in-chief John McDuling in a conversation with founders of youth media outlet The Daily Aus, Sam Koslowski and Zara Seidler.

Addressing the question of how the publication intended to compete with the likes of the AFR, McDuling was adamant that Capital Brief would only only help to diversify the “information diet” of its readers.

“We believe that readers that we’re trying to target have the capacity and the sophistication and the desire to read more than one [publication] out there. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement at all,” he said.

McDuling continued that the publication was intentionally going after different stories, unlike others who had “done this in the past”, and ended up “covering the exact same stuff that’s already out there.”

“We think this market is plenty big enough for multiple players, as long as the journalism is good enough,” added Eisman.

It’s a sentiment that is shared by the founders of The Daily Aus, which has racked up half a million followers on its biggest platform, Instagram, since its launch in 2017.

Seilder said she spent a lot of time thinking about competition when The Australian first launched its now defunct youth vertical, The Oz.

“Sam had to remind me it was actually a really good thing that the biggest media company in the world was investing in youth media.”

But despite the burgeoning media company’s relatively small footprint alongside Australia’s legacy players, both Seidler and Koslowski are confident of its commercial opportunity.

Koslowski described the publisher’s approach to advertising as “honest”, centering its audience in a parasocial agreement it ultimately sees as two way.

“If we are just honest with the audience of how we’re trying to make some money, they’re going to understand why we’re putting an ad in front of them. And if we make sure we pick the right partners, they’re gonna trust that,” he said.

But it goes both ways, with the publication’s audience equally ready to share their disappointment when they don’t agree with a partnership. “We can’t afford to get it wrong,” said Koslowski.


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