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Panpa Bulletin : Oct-Nov-December 2007
Fairfax Media executives have held talks with senior WA public servants aimed at securing advertising support for its pro- posed new Perth-based online newspaper, The Perth Leader. The new paper, if launched, would be Fairfax's second web-only newspaper. The first, brisbanetimes.com.au, went live earlier this year. An internal memo written by Paul Giles, acting man- ager of strategic communications for Western Australia's Government Media Office, implying that the launch of The Perth Leader, with a staff of 15, is imminent, was picked up by the weekly Fremantle Herald. The wording of the memo suggested that the meeting, in which Fairfax Digital product and marketing director Pippa Leary took part, would discuss the new paper's "editorial stance". This resulted in the head of Digital Media Jack Matthews, to issue a statement defending the company's editorial integrity. "There will never ever be an understanding between our- selves and any advertiser to buy editorial positioning," said Matthews. Queensland government-sponsored advertising featured strongly when the brisbanetimes.com.au was launched in March --- initial support Fairfax Digital is obviously keen to replicate for its Perth Leader site. Breaking into the Perth market could be a tougher propo- sition, however, than Brisbane, which Matthews says is "exceeding expectations". Ahead of Fairfax's well-signaled arrival, News Limited, which publishes Perth's Sunday Times, last year upgraded its local website to a lively seven-day operation. WA's independent daily, The West Australian, which was slow to take up the digital challenge, is now also making good progress --- but at a cost. In the first quarter of the 07/08 financial year, revenue from thewest.com.au rose by more than $0.3m, but the EBIT loss increased by $0.6m to $1.0m. Reporting on progress to shareholders at WAN's annual meeting, managing director Ken Steinke said thewest.com. au had been launched in October last year with the aim of building a site centred around what the company does best --- West Australian news. "We have more than 200 journalists in WA. "No one else can, or ever will, put that amount of invest- ment into quality journalism in WA," he said. "That appears to be paying off for us. Traffic has quadru- pled in 12 months, to more than 10 million page impressions last month and is still accelerating. "Technology not only opens new doors for us, it can im- prove and expand our existing media. "Our philosophy on this is simple --- where we believe we bring particular expertise or advantages, we'll develop the site ourselves. "Where we don't add anything significant, we are more likely to form alliances with other players." Fairfax paperless Perth paper poised to play By Jack Beverley
August September 2007