Australia is at the centre of a digital news gold rush as as global players seek to carve out new audiences from sophisticated consumers at the bottom of the world.
Britain’s The Daily Mail is the latest in the news invasion, joint venturing with Nine Entertainment’s local digital news site Mi9, the former ninemsn.
With more than 57 million visitors a month, the Mail Online is the most visited news site in the world.
And the Daily Mail is hitting Australia with big numbers: 50 journalists based in Sydney and an editor to be appointed shortly.
A local URL www.dailymail.com.au will be launched early 2014.
Publisher Martin Clarke came to Australia in late August this year as a speaker at the Future Forum, part of the PANPA Newspaper of the Year awards.
Clarke and key members of his editorial and commercial teams also visited the major news groups in Australia including Mi9 with which he has now announced an Australian joint venture.
“I’m excited that we can now offer Australians a local version with a strong focus on editorial integrity and campaigning journalism,” Clarke says.
“This partnership with Mi9 makes complete sense to us. Two trusted brands with a commitment to journalism will offer stories that will set the agenda in Australia.”
An estimated 250,000 Australians visit the Mail Online every day, according to Clarke. The idea now is to offer these readers the latest local Australian news as well.
Clarke doesn’t believe in paywalls for news sites.
“Paywalls are extremely problematic,” he said earlier this year. “If you have a flat paywall, then you better have content that is utterly exclusive.”
Mi9 CEO Mark Britt says: “We’re aiming to create the largest digital news team in the country.”
Australia is a natural target for English-language global digital brands wanting to extend reach. Here, there are audiences familiar with global brands, the economy is robust and there is high internet penetration and world-leading take-up rates of smartphones and tablets.
The Mail Online joins The Guardian which this year launched an Australian edition. Digital giant Buzzfeed hired a local editor in September.
The Huffington Post has been reportedly planning an Australian edition but those plans appear on hold while the site launches in Japan and Brazil. The US website, now owned by AOL, established a UK edition in 2011.
Business Insider, founded by Henry Blodget, launched its Australia edition in April this year.
Allure Media, Business Insider Australia’s publisher, also has Australian editions of the POPSUGAR network of celebrity and lifestyle sites, and technology websites Gizmodo, Lifehacker and Kotaku.