The West Australian looks at paywall options, revealing it now has 8,000 digital subscribers

McCarthy speaking at today's G'Day from WA event

McCarthy speaking at today’s G’Day from WA event

The West Australian has confirmed it will look to follow the lead of Fairfax and News Corp and put up a paywall on its online website, Mumbrella understands.

Editor Brett McCarthy refused to put a time frame on the decision but revealed, at a function for media buyers in Sydney, that subscriptions to its digital replica edition were already at 8,000 after the decision last year to stop distributing printed copies beyond Broome as the costs were too high. 

“(Paywalls) is something we have looked at, ” McCarthy told Mumbrella after the event. “We are looking at a subscription model online. I wouldn’t put a time frame on it but it is something we are examining.

“We know all the other organisations are doing it.”

A move by Seven West Media’s print arm to charge for digital content on The West Australian would bring it in line with other Australia’s other major newspaper publishers Fairfax and News Corp.

However, News Corp dropped the paywall from its Perth Now website in August last year in the face of competition from The West Australian and Fairfax’s WA Today, both of which are currently free.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 11.20.26 amMcCarthy told the room about the newspaper’s success in getting consumers in regional and remote parts of the state to move across their subscriptions to the digital app, which replicates the print edition on a tablet.

He said: “We are increasingly pushing and selling the digital edition of the paper in regional and remote areas of Western Australia. It is a difficult state to cover, we have done it for many years but in some of the regional areas we are getting people to download the digital replica.

“Since we began promoting that in January we have about 8,000 West Australians using the app.”

Speaking to Mumbrella after the event, McCarthy said the 8,000 figure was a positive sign for the introduction of paywalls and had also given their readers faster access to the publisher’s content.

“We have only really been promoting it since the start of the year.” he said. “We are happy with the uptake – it has been a really good thing for our regional readers who often had to wait for the newspaper to be delivered to them later in the day.”

In December 2014, The West Australian announced it was cutting distribution saying it had become too expensive to distribute printed editions of newspapers to residents north of Broome. 

The editor also spoke about the impact of the merging of the Seven Network and West Australian newsrooms into one integrated newsroom, flagging editorial projects in the future would increasingly be done across various platforms.

“Our reporters are now seated together – there is no separate Seven area or West area,” said McCarthy, referring to the project which is now five weeks old.

“Increasingly I think we will embark on joint journalistic exercises together where we will investigate certain stories or topics. Where we do those projects together we will roll them out the best way that we think it works best for Seven West.”

Nic Christensen 


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