‘Intelligent, clever, and relevant’: The first three months of The Nightly

Sarah-Jane Tasker the nightly

Sarah-Jane Tasker: “I’ve been a journalist for almost 30 years but there has been nothing quite as exhilarating as this.”

Seven West Media‘s digital-only newspaper, The Nightly, is making a splash. Since going live in February, the title more than doubled its audience in the second month – recording 1.808 million visitors in April, a 107% increase since launch.

Mediaweek spoke with The Nightly’s editor, Sarah-Jane Tasker, about what it’s like establishing a new masthead, the content readers are resonating with, and what comes next. 

What have the first three months behind the scenes of The Nightly been like?

Hectic! Launching a masthead, a new national voice, is a wild ride. I’ve been a journalist for almost 30 years but there has been nothing quite as exhilarating as this, being at the forefront of such an innovative, exciting brand. This is all new, so there are no rules and we have to keep reminding ourselves we are not bound by the old constraints of producing a newspaper.

This is a ‘print’ product for the millennials … That means we have to challenge each other every day, question why we are presenting these great stories in the way we are, and ask if there is another way to grab the audience for this yarn.

Newspapers are a competitive market to break into, and digital potentially even more so. How have you been working to make sure The Nightly’s content cuts through?

At the centre of The Nightly is good journalism, strong voices, clear and cut through writing and presentation.

What sort of content is resonating with readers of The Nightly?

Politics, sport, business. No surprises about what people want to read. Plus, really interesting opinion, and edgy culture and lifestyle content.

What we are giving readers is really special. A snapshot of the day with a different lens, a fresh design imperative. Anything and everything is up for grabs, focusing always and only really on what readers are interested in. Some of that is obvious. With other stories, important, maybe harder for audiences to get their heads around, we are intent on bringing them into the yarn, capturing their attention, and making them read stuff they maybe didn’t even know they were interested in. People often say politics is boring for younger generations. Well, it definitely is if your writing is dull and lazy. We promise not to be either of those things.

Ipsos iris data showed that The Nightly more than doubled its audience in its second month. How are you planning on making the most of that momentum?

We’ve only just begun. It’s a new brand, so many Australians don’t even know about us yet, and that audience will grow organically but it will also come with a rush as we deliver the goods with great journalism, well told and well presented.

The data also showed that almost a third of The Nightly’s audience is under 39-years-old, with 54% of readers being women. Another 30% of readers are aged 40 to 54 years old. How significant are those numbers?

Well, it says it all, right? Media outlets can sleepwalk into oblivion by refusing to engage with younger audiences. We have to find the platforms and the voice to appeal to young readers. They’re a tough crowd. They know what they want, and they often hate what they’ve been getting from mainstream outlets, which are stuck in their old ways. We are bringing them intelligent, clever, and relevant content in a compelling way.

What does the rest of the year look like for The Nightly?

We are only going to get bigger and better. We will keep iterating and experimenting and improving our journalism. You’re only as good as your last edition. We’re also always looking at our avenues to the readers. How are we reaching them and what new ways can we cross paths and inspire them to keep coming back for that special Nightly touch?

See also: Anthony de Ceglie’s ‘dream’ is a ‘unified’ Seven and new audiences

Top image: Sarah-Jane Tasker

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