Right about now Mick Carroll should have been deep in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics which were scheduled to start in five weeks. Last December Carroll, editor of The Sunday Telegraph, was appointed News Corp’s Australia Olympic editor, working alongside Fox Sports’ Steve Crawley as the Olympic director, the two media executives were to oversee a team of 40+ heading to Tokyo to cover the games.
A lot has happened since then. The Olympics of course has been postponed and given what COVID-19 has done to the media business, a team of 40 going to cover any event in the future would seem unlikely.
News Corp meanwhile has kept Carroll very busy. Last month he was given the role of national weekend editor, meaning he oversees the Saturday and Sunday editions of The Telegraph, in addition to running lifestyle and entertainment content that can be used across the national network.
Carroll told Mediaweek his new role has two parts to it: “There’s a national remit, helping coordinate national investigations. I take control of the national lift-outs on Saturdays and Sundays, trying to get us to work better together, and to leverage our national reach a bit better.”
The move to take over editing the Saturday paper won’t happen until next month. “Saturday and Sunday are the most important days for our business, in terms of our revenue and readers,” said Carroll. “We are doubling down on premium content, and we’ve had a philosophy at The Sunday Telegraph to concentrate on event journalism. Topics not necessarily on the news cycle, but things that make people go, ‘Wow, what’s this about?’
“We are planning to do a lot more cooperative national stories, part ones, part twos, investigations together, campaigns together, just to add a bit more clout to what we do.”
Ahead of the move to take over both papers, Carroll and News Corp are looking to maximise weekend readership. “On Sundays we’ve discovered there’s a pretty substantial digital audience, and the best thing for us is, they seem to have the same philosophy of weekend news as the print readers do, in that they’re very engaged, they’re prepared to pay more, and they stick around longer. Their engagement times on Sunday have dramatically increased, and also their propensity to pay to subscribe is much greater, and we think that same philosophy would apply to Saturdays as well, particularly in the evenings.”
The Night Watch: Honouring those who keep us safe
A new weekend feature launching this week is a national project called The Night Watch. “It’s a celebration of the people who look after us while you sleep – ambos, firies, police officers, rural fire service, AFP officers – it’s a 12-part podcast, vodcast series, with a print execution, and it’s very good,” said Carroll. “We’ve singled out some high profile news events and will show readers how it affected the people who arrived there first. It investigates the personal toll those events have taken on the first responders, and the emergency services’ lives, families, friends.”
Carroll said the key creative leading the project is Nick Eagar. “He’s a digital picture editor and this was his idea, we gave him some journalistic support. He cut the project together and it’s come up very well. That’s kind of the territory we want to play in when we become a weekend offering.”
I Catch Killers with Gary Jubelin
Ever since signing the former police officer earlier this year, News Corp has had much content from Gary Jubelin. Carroll told Mediaweek Jubelin has been working a lot with his Sunday deputy editor Claire Harvey. As well as contributing content for the Sunday edition, Jubelin is behind the I Catch Killers podcast. The series was originally promoted as running for six episodes, but so far they have published 13.
Escape gets a makeover as tourism fires up
The Sunday travel magazine Escape has a new team, and a new look magazine launches soon on Sundays, with a new look digital site to come pretty soon after.
“Through this whole period, we’ve tried to support the travel companies by keeping Escape going,” said Carroll. “Even though the advertising revenue wasn’t there, we kept it going just to say, ‘Look, we’re in this together, and we are going to come out of it’.”
Sunday magazines merging
Another big change coming for readers soon is when Body+Soul and Stellar cease appearing as separate magazines, morphing into a 2-in-1 flipbook publication under editor-in-chief Sarrah Le Marquand. That is planned to happen in July.
Next week: Editing Australia’s biggest-selling newspaper during COVID-19