Launch day for The Nightly: Seven West Media’s daily paper aimed at “mainstream middle”

The Nightly

Anthony De Ceglie and Sarah-Jane Tasker: “There is a lack of smart journalism that is free for Australians”

Kerry Stokes today sees the ambitious daily digital newspaper he is backing publish its first edition.

The Nightly app went live this morning, pre-loaded with a number of features and news items. The website is loaded with content across different categories from politics to culture to sport.

The first edition of the digital edition of The Nightly is being dropped at 6pm eastern today.

To learn more about the project, Mediaweek spoke with editor-in-chief Anthony De Ceglie and editor Sarah-Jane Tasker. De Ceglie is also the editor-in-chief of The West Australian. Tasker was formerly business editor at The West.

On conceiving the ambitious project

ADC: It’s my baby. I am 38 and I came through the industry at a time when almost every six months there were emails calling for redundancies. I always said that if I ever had the chance to be an editor or editor-in-chief I would always strive to innovate and grow. To disrupt and create new opportunities for my team and the journos of my era. I am constantly trying to find something new that we can do.

The idea for The Nightly comes from three things. We have all seen the rise in popularity of the digital newspaper. If you pick up a hard copy of the Daily Mail in the UK, it will carry a page 2-3 ad promoting its app and the digital newspaper.

One in five people who say they read The West Australian newspaper are now reading the digital edition. We know digital editions are growing in popularity.

There was an opportunity that Kerry Stokes hasn’t [previously] had to launch a brand new digital newspaper on the east coast.

Secondly, people’s routines have changed. It used to be you’d wake up in the morning and sit around the kitchen table and everyone would look at the newspaper. These days people are so busy in the morning. Me-time has changed to the evening.

The kids might be down, and the parents are on the couch listening to a podcast, binge-watching TV, or online shopping.

Lack of quality free option

We ask people to give us 20-30 minutes of your time and we’ll get you prepared for the next day. They don’t need to stress about getting on top of current affairs. The Nightly can prepare them the night before.

Finally, there is a market for a new, free, newspaper and website that is mainstream middle that can disrupt the east coast market. There is a lack of smart journalism that is free for Australians.

The Nightly’s Anthony De Ceglie

Format of The Nightly

ADC: It’s a digital newspaper, a website and an app. For the website, we have a close working relationship with Google and they have helped us create the look.

It is very clean with a lot of white space and simple to navigate. It is digital-first, SEO-first, and user-first.

SJT: The digital edition won’t look like a traditional newspaper. We know many people will read it on a mobile phone so it will format properly for that experience. It will be clean and simple with sometimes just one story on a page. The detail with Google even goes down to using a font they suggested.

Curation is key

ADC: In a world where there is so much chaos, so much information and misinformation, people crave curation. They want to know what is important enough to be on page one, other pages at the front and then be able to digest it all in 30 minutes or less.

Target audience

ADC: We refer to it as sitting in the mainstream middle. It’s a philosophy we have been using at The West Australian.

But what does that mean? We say we are economically conservative but socially progressive. To better understand that, the journalism will speak for itself. We feel smart Australians want somewhere to go to be informed. We are not sure that the current market is catering to them.

See also: Anthony De Ceglie keeps The West Australian in the middle, yet as provocative as possible

SJT: If you look at other major markets there are many mastheads and digital offerings. A lot of general readers visit more than one website and engage with different content. We feel there is more than enough room for a new masthead.

The Nightly’s Sarah-Jane Tasker

Attracting enough readers to generate revenue

ADC: The digital newspaper makes it a very different proposition. We run a clickbait website in Perth called Perth Now that is very successful. The difference with this is it is a prestige product that advertisers can pay a premium for.

We will combine display revenue from the digital edition and website, plus programmatic for something that is premium. That is the game changer for us.

The margins are more attractive because you are not printing and distributing a physical product. If our product is good enough it becomes quality clickbait and there is nothing wrong with that. We can do smart journalism and get a ton of people reading it.

The Nightly Content

ADC: The team on The Nightly at launch is 15 people. We also have additional contributors with Seven News reporters writing columns. People like Michael Usher, Gemma Acton and Mark Riley, plus David Koch, Emma Freedman and Justin Langer. Some of The West team will pinch-hit in business.

Our focus will be politics, business and culture. The first two are where we think we can make a big difference.

The digital newspaper will be published at 6pm east coast time on weeknights.

The website will be updated 24/7 with breaking news.

Getting a jump with business news

SJT: My background is business and we have a great business team at The West Australian who we will lean on quite a lot to add to our business content.

We have a syndication deal with The Economist. Also The New York Times content will be given two dedicated pages every day in the digital edition.

ADC: We publish just two hours after the market closes and so many of the big companies are also based in Perth. Our relationship with those companies is very strong. The fact that it will be free will also be a game-changer in that [business] arena.

The Nightly’s first editorial: ‘The Nightly will fight for common sense, mainstream middle & working class economic conservatism’

Corporate backing

ADC: The Nightly is part of West Australian Newspapers (WAN), and we are all part of Seven West Media. We have had 100% total support from Seven. More importantly, we have had 100% support from Kerry Stokes. He’s very involved in what we are up to and excited by it.

Marketing The Nightly

ADC: We have an 11-week marketing campaign that kicks off on Monday. It covers, TV, outdoor and online.

Part of it is leveraging Seven West Media. The point of the product is to value-add to the powerhouse that Seven West is.

Look out for Seven News, The Latest, Sunrise, and helping us get the word out.

Audience targets

ADC: We will be looking for people to start talking about its journalism. One month in we hope that people in the media, and people in Canberra will be saying things like “Did you read that in The Nightly?”

If we can be influential then we have done our job.

Long-term we want to be a major player. We have not done this to be a minnow. We’d like to be a top 20 news website.

The Nightly did a series of test runs and this was one of the pre-launch covers

Sarah-Jane Tasker’s team

SJT: We are very confident about the ability of the team we have. They include:

Sarah Blake: Former deputy editor of The Weekend Telegraph. She’s a big hitter who’s very experienced.

Chris Dore: The former editor of The Australian will be a contributor and will write a couple of columns a week with some additional features.

Wenlei Ma: Our culture editor has a great voice in that space and is well respected. She is heard on other media reviewing movies and TV shows.

Matthew Quagliotto: Ex-Daily Telegraph and

Ben McClellan: Former assistant editor The West Australian is going to run sport for The Nightly.

Kristin Shorten: An investigative journalist whose media career began at The Courier-Mail, more recently at The West Australian.

Sport in The Nightly

ADC: We won’t do match reports, instead we will have a longer lens. The one market that is really saturated is sport. Sports for us is opinion-based coverage. Leigh Matthews, Justin Langer and Mitchell Johnson are some of the contributors.

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