APN News & Media and News Corp Australia have united for an editorial campaign that demands politicians address the disparity in quality of life between those who live in regional Australia and cities.
The far-reaching campaign soon attracted the attention of APN, which approached News to see if its Australian Regional Media division could get on board.
On April 23, APN officially launched the Fair Go campaign across ARM’s 12 daily news brands and more than 60 community titles which span across NSW and Queensland.
The decision to allow APN join the campaign was made somewhat easier by the fact its titles do not largely cross over with the footprint of the News titles involved.
News’ head of corporate affairs and content innovation Campbell Reid said he could not recall a publishers uniting for an editorial campaign before, but he was delighted it had come to pass.
“Our view was that the concerns that our newspapers had for their regions were equally true of the concerns that APN readers would have of their regions,” he said.
“So we’re delighted that an idea that can genuinely have ambitions to get readers in the regions a fairer go, can cross from our company into another stable of newspapers.”
The front covers of Townsville Bulletin and Mercury signalling the launch of the Fair Go campaign.
ARM chief executive Neil Monaghan said the contribution of regional Australia, which accounts for a third of the country’s population and 40 per cent of its economic output, is significant.
“Yet the statistics shows a clear difference in government spending toward regional markets,” he said
“In the lead up to a federal election, we are hoping that regional Australia’s voices can be heard and action can be taken to give this large proportion of Australians a fair go.”
Mr Reid said he was open to other independent newspapers getting on board the campaign and would even be open to having conversations with rival Fairfax Media.
“Again, most of the areas where their smaller papers operate we don’t, so we’d certainly be open to having conversations with them for sure,” he said.
This isn’t the first time that News has collaborated with APN.
News acquired a 15 per cent stake in APN in 2015. APN has also announced it would be divesting from its regional newspapers and the company says its in talks with several interested parties.
Campaigns abound at News
The regional Australia campaign is one of three editorial campaigns that have been launch by News just this month.
The Courier-Mail and Sunday Mail launched their GO QLD campaign, which aims to reinvigorate Queensland, on April 13 and Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph re-launched its Go West campaign, which fights for Western Sydney, on April 11.
Mr Reid said there was no over-arching strategy coordinating these three campaigns together and the timing was coincidental.
However The Daily Telegraph’s three-year Go West campaign, previously known as Fair Go for Western Sydney, helped inform the development of the other two campaigns.
“I think the Fair Go for The West campaign broke new ground for us in that it joined all of the capabilities and opportunities that exist across the newspaper business,” Mr Reid said.
“So rather than it just being an editorial campaign that we hoped the marketing department and advertising department would notice, we recruited the whole of business to be part of that campaign.
“If there’s a commercial client who sees an opportunity to broaden their role within the community we are talking to them as the campaign is being planned, rather than trying to get those opportunities in a haphazard way after the event.”
Mr Reid emphasises the great importance of news brands running editorial campaigns and fighting for their readers from both a commercial, and justice point of view.
“Some of them, when they become very effective, absolutely drive sales and readership, but the most important thing is that assertion of value and assertion of connection to the community,” he said.
“It sends a message to community leaders and politicians that ours is a voice that is a vibrant member of the community.
“If we can be effective in changing public policy, we’re almost certainly an effective place to advertise products as well. The strength and effectiveness of the community, of the newspaper’s voice is a unique attribute that links the readers concerns and the commercial opportunities together.”
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