The Australian and its Saturday edition, the Weekend Australian, is a conservative broadsheet newspaper published in Australia from Monday to Saturday each week since 14 July 1964. As the only nationally distributed daily newspaper aimed at a general readership, its cross-platform readership as of September 2019 was 2,394,000, down 4.4% on 2018.
The Australian is published by News Corp Australia, an asset of News Corp, which also owns the sole daily newspapers in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin, and the most circulated metropolitan daily newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne. News Corp's Chairman and Founder is Rupert Murdoch.
The first edition of The Australian was published by Rupert Murdoch on 15 July 1964, becoming the third national newspaper in Australia following shipping newspaper Daily Commercial News (1891) and Australian Financial Review (1951). Unlike other original Murdoch newspapers, it is not a tabloid publication. At the time, a national paper was considered commercially unfeasible, as newspapers mostly relied on local advertising for their revenue. The Australian was printed in Canberra, then plates flown to other cities for copying. From its inception the paper struggled for financial viability and ran at a loss for several decades.
A Sunday edition, The Sunday Australian, was established in 1971. However, it was discontinued in 1972 because there was insufficient press capacity to print it as well as The Sunday Telegraph and the Sunday Mirror.
The Australian's first editor was Maxwell Newton, before leaving the newspaper within a year, and was succeeded by Walter Kommer, and then by Adrian Deamer. Under his editorship The Australian encouraged female journalists, and was the first mainstream daily newspaper to hire an Aboriginal reporter, John Newfong.
In October 2011, The Australian announced that it was planning to become the first general newspaper in Australia to introduce a paywall, with the introduction of a $2.95 per week charge for readers to view premium content on its website, mobile phone and tablet applications. The paywall was officially launched on 24 October, with a free 3-month trial.
In September 2017, The Australian launched a Chinese website.
Daily sections include National News (The Nation) followed by Worldwide News (Worldwide), Sport and Business News (Business). Contained within each issue is a prominent op/ed section, including regular columnists and non-regular contributors. Other regular sections include Technology (AustralianIT), Media (edited by Darren Davidson since 2015), Features, Legal Affairs, Aviation, Defence, Horse-Racing (Thoroughbreds), The Arts, Health, Wealth and Higher Education. A Travel & Indulgence section is included on Saturdays, along with The Inquirer, an in-depth analysis of major stories of the week, alongside much political commentary. Saturday lift-outs include Review, focusing on books, arts, film and television, and The Weekend Australian Magazine, the only national weekly glossy insert magazine. A glossy magazine, Wish, is published on the first Friday of the month.
"The Australian has long maintained a focus on issues relating to Aboriginal disadvantage."[needs context] It also devotes attention to the information technology, Defence and mining industries, as well as the science, economics, and politics of climate change. It has also published numerous "special reports" into Australia's energy policy, legal affairs and research sector.
Editorial and opinion pages
Former editor Paul Kelly stated in 1991 that "The Australian has established itself in the marketplace as a newspaper that supports economic libertarianism". Laurie Clancy asserted in 2004 that the newspaper "is generally conservative in tone and heavily oriented toward business; it has a range of columnists of varying political persuasions but mostly to the right." Former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell has said that the editorial and op-ed pages of the newspaper are centre-right.
In 2007, Crikey described the newspaper as generally in support of the Liberal Party and the then-Coalition government, but has pragmatically supported Labor governments in the past as well. In 2007, The Australian announced their support for the Rudd Australian Labor Party in the Federal election.
The Australian presents varying views on climate change, including articles by those who disagree with the scientific consensus such as Ian Plimer, and authors who agree with the scientific consensus such as Tim Flannery and Bjørn Lomborg. A 2011 study of the previous seven years of articles claimed that four out of every five articles were opposed to taking action on climate change.
In 2010 the ABC's Media Watch presenter Paul Barry accused The Australian of waging a campaign against the Australian Greens, and the Greens' federal leader Bob Brown wrote that The Australian has "stepped out of the fourth estate by seeing itself as a determinant of democracy in Australia." In response, The Australian opined that "Greens leader Bob Brown has accused The Australian of trying to wreck the alliance between the Greens and Labor. We wear Senator Brown's criticism with pride. We believe he and his Green colleagues are hypocrites; that they are bad for the nation; and that they should be destroyed at the ballot box."
AWB kickback scandal
Caroline Overington, a senior journalist writing for The Australian reported in 2005 about the Australian Wheat Board funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to Iraq and the government of Saddam Hussein before the start of the Iraq War. This story became known as the AWB oil-for-wheat scandal, and resulted in a commission of inquiry into the matter. Overington received a Walkley award for her coverage.
In 2009, The Australian ran many articles about the Rudd Government's Building the Education Revolution policy, which uncovered evidence of over-pricing, financial waste and mismanagement of the building of improvements to schools such as halls, gymnasiums and libraries. On the newspaper's website, there was a section named "Stimulus Watch", subtitled "How your Billions Are Being Spent", which contained a large collection of such articles.
The following year, other media outlets also reported these issues and the policy turned into a political embarrassment for the government, which until then had been able to ignore The Australian's reports. Along with the government's insulation stimulus policy, it contributed to criticisms, perceptions of incompetence and general dissatisfaction with the government's performance.
On 16 July 2010, it was reported that Julia Gillard had admitted that the school-building program was flawed and that errors had been made because the program was designed in haste to protect jobs during the global financial crisis.
In 2011, Glenn Milne reported on the allegations against Prime Minister Julia Gillard concerning the AWU affair including a claim regarding Gillard's living arrangements with Australian Workers' Union official Bruce Wilson. Gillard contacted the chief executive of The Australian, resulting in the story being removed and an apology and retraction posted in its place.
On 18 August 2012, Hedley Thomas reported that Gillard had left her job as a partner with law firm Slater and Gordon as a direct result of a secret internal investigation in 1995 into corrupt conduct on behalf of her then-boyfriend Ralph Blewett. The story was ignored for a long time by other media outlets until after Gillard held a press conference to respond to the allegations against her. In 2013 the Fair Work Commission commenced initial inquiries into allegations of improper union financial conduct, and the government initiated a judicial inquiry into the AWU affair in December of that year as part of a royal commission into trade unions.
The Teacher’s Pet
The Teachers Pet, an investigation into the disappearance of Lynette Dawson, is a podcast written by Hedley Thomas and Slade Gibson that ran in 2018. It was credited with generating new leads that led to the subsequent arrest of Chris Dawson for the murder of his wife, and the setting up of police enquiry Strike Force Southwood to explore claims of sexual assaults and student-teacher relationships at several Sydney high schools brought up on the podcast. The series has had 28 million downloads, was the number one Australian podcast and reached number one in the UK, Canada and New Zealand. Both Hedley and Gibson received Gold Walkley awards for their work on the series.
Columnists and contributors
Former columnists include , David Burchell, Michael Stutchbury, , George Megalogenis, Glenn Milne, Cordelia Fine, , Michael Costa, P. P. McGuinness, Michael Costello, Frank Devine, Matt Price and Christopher Pearson. Former cartoonists include Bill Leak.
Columnists include Janet Albrechtsen, , Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny, Brendan O'Neill, Nicolas Rothwell, Niki Savva, , Dennis Shanahan, Greg Sheridan, Judith Sloan, Emma Jane, Peter van Onselen, Graham Richardson and Phillip Adams. It also features daily cartoons from Johannes Leak.
Occasional contributors include Gregory Melleuish, Kevin Donnelly, Caroline Overington, Tom Switzer, James Allan, Hal G.P. Colebatch, , Noel Pearson, Bettina Arndt, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Lucian Boz.
Australian of the Year Award
In 1971, The Australian instituted their own "Australian of the Year award" separate and often different from the Australian of the Year chosen by the government's National Australia Day Council. Starting in 1968, the official award had long had links to the Victorian Australia Day Council, and at the time there was a public perception it was state based. As a national newspaper, The Australian felt they were better situated to create an award that more truly represented all of Australia. Nominees are suggested by readers, decided upon by an editorial board, and awarded in January of every year.
In the June quarter of 2013, the average print circulation for The Australian on weekdays was 116,655 and 254,891 for The Weekend Australian. Both were down (9.8 and 10.8%) compared to the June quarter the previous year.
As of March 2015, the weekday edition circulation was 104,165 and the weekend edition was 230,182, falling 6.5 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2014. The Australian had 67,561 paid digital subscribers in the same period.
As of August 2015, according to third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb, The Australian's website was the 72nd and 223rd most visited website in Australia respectively. SimilarWeb rates the site as the 23rd most visited news website in Australia, attracting almost 3 million visitors per month.
In September 2019, Roy Morgan reported figures of 843,000 (Sep 2018 – 810,000) for the print version (total, Weekend and weekday editions); digital versions 1,903, 000 (Sep 2018 – 1,812,000); total cross-platform 2,394,000 (Sep 2018 – 2,503,000); down 4.4%. (By way of comparison, The Sydney Morning Herald total figure was 4,209,000; The Age (Melbourne) 2,852,000, Herald Sun (Melbourne) 2,801,000. The only other nationally distributed daily newspaper, the business-focused Australian Financial Review, had 1,599,000 cross-platform readers (up 17.7%).)
The paper has won Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association awards on several occasions;
- 2007 Online Newspaper of the Year award
- 2017 Daily Newspaper of the Year, Weekend Newspaper of the Year and Best Mobile site categories
Several journalists writing for The Australian have received Walkley awards for their investigative reporting.
- Journalism in Australia
- List of newspapers in Australia
- List of newspapers in New South Wales
- List of Walkley awards won by The Australian
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