Sport is a big part of The Sunday Telegraph’s offering for Sydney. The newspaper has gone through a number of changes in terms of its layout, but what hasn’t changed is the location of its sport liftout, which is in the middle of the book. “It allows people to isolate that section from the rest. It gives it a premium feel,” editor Mick Carroll told Mediaweek.
During the winter season, NRL is the most popular sport among the readers of the Sunday paper. It becomes its #1 priority. In the edition before the second State of Origin game, it published a 16-page special. “We have the best NRL reporters by a thousand miles,” Carroll said, giving special mention to Phil Rothfield. “There’s not much in NRL that happens that Phil and the team don’t know about.”
Following the end of the NRL season, Carroll will be heavily focused on covering the cricket. Fox Sports, owned by News Corp Australia, won the broadcast rights for the sport in conjunction with Seven earlier this year. The deal between Cricket Australia and the two broadcasters is for six years.
“There will be a massive push with cricket. We are going to try to put as much energy into it as we have done with NRL. Cricket audiences are crying out for more information. The multicultural community in Sydney would love to get more information about it,” Carroll said. “We are looking at our cricket resources. The beauty with Foxtel and us is that we can share talent – particularly in terms of opinions and investigations.”
News Corp may even establish a fantasy game for the cricket like the one it has done for NRL and AFL with SuperCoach. “We will definitely be looking at other options for fantasy games,” Carroll said. “SuperCoach has been such a raging success. It has helped build our digital business.”
With the 2017-18 financial year coming to an end, Carroll revealed that News Corp is in the process of rebuilding its teams, “particularly for Sunday”.
He said: “We are shedding some of the things that we would normally provide that isn’t premium. We are really focusing our reporters on producing big hit and investigation stories. We want to produce fully rounded packages, so not just interviews, but we also want video, audio and podcasts. This is a real focus for us now, because we are trying to build a digital subscription business.”
Is it still an Australian tradition to pick up a newspaper on a Sunday morning?
Carroll answered: “Sundays are changing. It’s become people’s shopping day. But I still think that’s the time when you think you are going to have time to read stuff that you want to get into. That is certainly the philosophy that we are taking at The Sunday Tele.
“The readers are more discerning and demanding and that is because content is everywhere. When we promote something as exclusive, it genuinely has to be something that our reporters have dug up and worked on. There is still plenty of room for top quality reporting. It floats more to the top now than ever before because there is so much ordinary, poorly researched content out there. Readers are looking to traditional newsrooms for content they can trust and know is true.”
Top photo: NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and The Sunday Telegraph’s Mick Carroll