“It’s a very different company”: Lisa Davies on her new role as CEO of AAP


• “I’m going to be looking to continue to grow AAP and make it sustainable in the long term.”

In October 2021, Lisa Davies announced she would be stepping down as editor of The Sydney Morning Herald after working in the role since 2017. Her next move was to return to the organisation where her career began as she took over as CEO of Australian Associated Press (AAP) in February.

Mediaweek spoke to Davies about her new role, AAP 2.0, and the rollout of the AAP App.

“It’s terrific. It’s great to be back at AAP which is where I started my journalistic career. It’s a very different company to the one that it was back then,” Davies says. “I’m really energised by the work that everyone’s doing and the opportunities we have in front of us.”

AAP is entering calmer waters after 2020 saw the newswire come dangerously close to closing down for good. At the eleventh hour, AAP was sold to a consortium of investors and philanthropists to create what became known as AAP 2.0.

“It’s been a really rough couple of years, a huge amount of credit needs to go to my predecessor, Emma Cowdroy, the editorial team, and the executive team who have steered the company to the position where I have come back. It’s been a lot of hard work, there’s been a huge amount of support shown for the organisation by the community, by government, and by philanthropic donors. All of that has been really gratifying, but it doesn’t take away from the immense amount of hard work that’s gone on to keep the lights on.”

Emma Cowdroy facebook aap

Emma Cowdroy

Despite the bumpy ride, Davies says that the challenges AAP has faced have only proved how deep the support for the newswire runs.

“We’ve had a really strong sense of support from our subscribers and our clients. We retained 95% of our subscribers that we had before the ownership change, and the ones we lost were due to Covid. 

I would like to think in the future that both of our former major shareholders in News Corp and Nine would potentially look to take some of AAP’s services. We’ll be having those conversations where they make sense.”

This year, AAP launched an app and subscription service to the public. At $10 a month subscribers will have access to breaking news from national, state, and sports – as a bespoke offering to consumers. This is the first time that AAP’s service has gone out to the public.

It really was born out of that huge amount of support and public outpouring that came in the wake of the decision to potentially close AAP,” says Davies. “The company started a GoFundMe page because we had so many people trying to contact us asking how they could help. That fundraising campaign was really successful and I think it highlighted to Emma and the board how much of an appetite there is for the national newswire to succeed and to remain in the marketplace. 

“Reuters and Associated Press have an app, so it was something that Emma and the team saw others doing and thought there’d be an opportunity for us too. That was where it started.” 

There is another tangible benefit to having an app available to the public.

“One of the hard things about AAP is that if you haven’t grown up in the news world or had exposure to journalists and the media, you don’t really understand what a wire service is until you’ve had to have direct contact with it. By having a platform in the form of an app, donors can see the stories being produced every single day thanks to their contributions.”


While the app offers a wide range of stories, Davies says it’s not designed to become the sole place for the public to get their news.

“I would equate it to a radio bulletin news service rather than a more comprehensive newspaper-style offering. There’s plenty there, and there’s enough to get a sense of what’s happening in Australia and the world on any given day, but we’re certainly not trying to be the nation’s number one news site or anything close to it. We really just want to reward people for supporting us, and I certainly don’t see it as something that would ever replace your local newspaper or any of the other forms of media that you might like to consume.”

Since launching the app in March, Davies says that the feedback has been positive.

“What people are really quite keen about is the simplicity of it. It is, as I have said to people, no spin, no agenda, just the news. It really is just stories about what is happening, particularly state and national news stories. 

People have responded really well. We’re happy with where we are in terms of people who have signed up.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Davies says that AAP has a lot of projects on the horizon.

“I’m working towards a few big announcements around some projects that we’re doing – recently there was our joint announcement with TikTok around fact-checking for the federal election, our fact check business is going great guns, we’re working closely with a number of partners. There’s a lot happening. 

“We’ve got a great stable platform for growth and that’s what I’m going to be looking to do, to continue to grow AAP and make it sustainable in the long term.”

To Top