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Changes at the Tiser, shadows grow

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In this week’s column, we reveal The Advertiser’s new plans for its weekend magazine section while parent company News Corp warns of coming cuts, newspaper readership numbers show some positive signs, and Adelaide Uni maintains its silence on Radio Adelaide.

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The Advertiser to add gloss to SA Weekend

The Advertiser’s SA Weekend lift-out is being redesigned to be “backended” onto the glossy real estate supplement.

The lift-out has been edited for years by experienced hand Roy Eccleston, and has delivered the Tiser’s website some of its best-read stories.

Starting in a matter of weeks, the lift-out will become the flipside of the real estate section – start reading from one side and it’s real estate; turn the section over and you can read Weekend.

Eccleston said that at least half of the time, the Weekend side will be showing when you flip through the sections of the Saturday paper.

Insiders have been concerned the redesign means a downsize in Weekend’s content but Eccleston told InDaily the style and volume of content would remain the same.

He said making it the flipside of the real estate section was a clever way to deliver a better-looking product.

“It will definitely be a high-quality production with the same focus, features content and sections that it had before,” he said.

The lifestyle content  in SA Weekend was expanded after News Corp’s glossy monthly, Adelaide Magazine, was killed off at the end of 2013.

And a Weekend writer leaves to take on Broadsheet

Related to the above, SA Weekend has lost one of its key staff writers, Katie Spain.

Spain has resigned to become the local editor of Broadsheet, a website that is an established part of the media scene in the eastern states.

Broadsheet focuses on new bars, restaurants and cafes in Sydney and Melbourne, and last year announced plans to expand its brand to encompass Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

It started as the online offshoot of a quarterly printed product, but the print version was canned last year to focus on the more widely-read website.

Broadsheet is an interesting beast, with a focus on beautiful photography and being on top of what’s new, rather than qualitative reviews.

In another sign that the company thinks differently, Broadsheet opened its own restaurant in Melbourne last year.

Broadsheet confirmed Spain’s appointment, but it’s still not clear when more Adelaide content will start appearing on the website.

News Corp to cut its cloth

It’s understandable that the above changes to SA Weekend attracted fears of cost-cutting at Waymouth Street – every Murdoch journo knows that cuts are on their way to News Corp newspapers in Australia and the UK.

News Corp, the owner of The Advertiser, confirmed the bad news today after its second-quarter earnings fell 20 per cent on lower advertising revenue in the news division.

Total revenue at Rupert Murdoch’s media giant fell for a fourth straight quarter and chief executive Robert Thomson said today the group was aiming to save money across its masthead titles, which also include The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun.

Revenue from news in the three months to December 31 fell 8.1 per cent to $US1.4 billion ($A1.95 billion), compared to $US1.523 billion in the prior corresponding period.

“For our Australian mastheads, it was clearly a difficult quarter in advertising and to that extent we’ve clearly embarked on a cost cutting program,” Thomson told investors on a call today.

“Cost cutting has a short-term cost and a long-term benefit.”

He said “print advertising remained challenged, but we are seeing growth in digital advertising and circulation revenues”.

“We are particularly focused on cost reductions and sharing services around News Corp to streamline operations at the newspapers in Australia and the UK.”

Stand by.

– with AAP

Newspaper readership numbers

The latest Roy Morgan newspaper readership data shows some titles managed to arrest the loss of readers in the 12 months to December 2015.

Many, though, continue a seemingly inexorable decline.

First, the bright spots.

The Sydney Morning Herald, West Australian, the Saturday edition of the Daily Telegraph, and the Weekend Australian are virtually unchanged – which these days is counted as a win.

The Saturday edition of the Australian Financial Review gained readers – up 25.2 per cent – and the Mercury in Tasmania also lifted its Saturday readership by 4.9 per cent. The Gold Coast Bulletin managed the rare feat of adding readers on weekdays and the weekend.

The rest of the results are grim.

The Age shed more than 90,000 readers for its week-day print editions, and more than 100,000 on Saturdays.

In South Australia, The Advertiser’s weekday editions lost 30,000 readers, and there were also significant declines on Saturdays and Sundays.

The cross-platform figures – which combine digital and print readership – are more positive, but still show an overall decline.

The Tiser figures show a 7.8 per cent readership decline with a slight increase in digital readership failing to offset the losses in print editions.

The aforementioned SA Weekend lost nearly 10 per cent of its readers over the year, according to the Morgan stats.

Naughty corner

The University of Adelaide is prolonging the uncertainty for Radio Adelaide staff, volunteers and listeners.

It promised an announcement on the station’s future in January, and scheduled a meeting with staff last Friday, only to cancel it at the last minute with scanty explanation. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for Australia’s first community station – it needs to vacate its current premises in a few months.

The paid staffers are obviously worried about their jobs, and the many volunteers and supporters are in the dark. It’s time for open communication.

Top of the class

The Adelaide media diaspora deserves a mention, following this week’s announcement that Clive Mathieson is leaving his post as editor of The Australian. Mathieson, who grew up in Adelaide and started his career at The Advertiser, is joining the staff of NSW Premier Mike Baird. Mathieson’s dad Alec was a stalwart at the Tiser.

Mathieson the younger was well-regarded in his national role and his move away from the editorship seems to mark the end of an era for Adelaide’s grip on key national media jobs. FIVEaa’s David Penberthy is long-gone from his top editorial posts at The Daily Telegraph and news.com.au, and SA-raised Helen McCabe resigned as editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly in January.

South Australia still punches above its weight nationally, but with limited opportunities for starts in the media in SA – particularly compared to the era when Mathieson, Penberthy and McCabe began their careers – I wonder if this will continue.

Media Week is published on Fridays.

 

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