A new wave of digital media companies are coming to Australia, offering Millennial and Gen Z readers news in a punchy, quick and stylish format.
They tend to use frequent bolding to break up the page and emphasize subheadings that make salient points clear to the reader at a glance and reach readers where they are online, whether through email newsletters or Instagram.
Why it matters: Mainstream media in Australia missed the boat on the internet in the early 2000s, doing huge damage to its profitability and resulting in thousands of girls losing their jobs. It tried to get on board with ad-driven sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed News in the 2010s, but they did not last. If the new wave of outlets work, they could offer the industry a shot at redemption (and profit) but also fresh competition for established players.
Major media outlets might also be convinced that a snappier tone and (judicious) use of memes, humour and emojis is the way to reach younger readers, at least on some content.
Examples: it’s early days for the genre, but there are already a few leading contenders.
- The Daily Us does general news in short, simple bites and claims an audience that is 80 per cent under 30, with a female skew. It has 329,000 followers on Instagram, its favorite platform.
- Letter of Intent is a daily email newsletter for finance and deal professionals, tracking market moves and capital raising, that started this year. Its founder Kal Jamshidi, 32, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that’s just the start. It will expand into more verticals, like HR and is quickly growing its subscriber base, which sits at 5500.
- Cut Through Venture is another newsletter, aimed at the start-up capital raising space, but full of the data and charts beloved by techies.
Go deeper: publications with a similar business model in the United States are doing incredibly well.
- Politico, founded in 2007 as a gossipy, scrappy outfit that is well-known for its newsletters, was sold for $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) last year to a German publishing giant. It tried to buy a competitor, Axios, too.
- Morning Brew, a finance newsletter similar to Letter of Intentsold a controlling stake for up to $US75 million ($101 million) to Insider, a digital news site, in 2020. It reported its own sale with trademarks expect verve, saying the deal works because “Morning Brews to bring in $20+ million in revenue this year, has been consistently profitable, and has incredibly good-looking newsletter writers.”
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This will not solve the problem of declining local news on topics like schools and crime because the money and scale aren’t there. It’s not clear how much original reporting it can support, too.