Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

Guardian Australia launched in a spirit of hope and determination. Ten years later were going from strength to strength | Lenore Taylor

Guardian Australia launched in a spirit of hope and determination. Ten years later were going from strength to strength | Lenore Taylor


Guardian Australia launched in a spirit of hope and determination. Ten years later were going from strength to strength | Lenore Taylor

I don't need the archives to remember how it felt in May 2013 as we prepared to launch Guardian Australia; the excitement and exhaustion, and also the underlying fluttering of fear.

Our hope and determination was tinged with anxiety because we were embarking on an experiment most experts thought impossible; building a new and consequential news provider in Australia. We were backed by the global heft of the Guardian's news platforms and cushioned by a generous five-year loan from the philanthropist Graeme Wood, but we were launching into a market that had long centred on just two commercial news brands, Fairfax Media and News Corp. And we were starting small.

Looking back through the archives I found the interview given by our first editor Katharine Viner (now the Guardian's global editor-in-chief) to Radio National breakfast on launch day, 27 May 2013. You can hear the slight tone of uncertainty in Fran Kelly's voice as she asks: "So why does Australia need Guardian Australia?"

Viner replied that we brought true independence, guaranteed to be free of commercial or shareholder influence by virtue of our ownership structure; that we were built for the new era of digital news; and that we were truly international. All good reasons. But we also had an editorial staff of fewer than 20.

A few weeks earlier Kelly had interviewed the then chief executive of Fairfax, Greg Hywood, who had dismissed the Guardian as "a good brand in a few suburbs in London" but added: "The fact is both us and News Ltd provide hundreds of journalists and a depth of journalism every day through our publications, and to set up a website with a handful of people and bought-in content is not a real player in this game."

Ten years later we have proved him wrong. We're not yet as big as Nine Entertainment or News Corp but we definitely are a "player", an influential force in Australian news. But at the time we knew there was a chance he might be right. We hoped Australia's concentrated media landscape was not the way things would always be, and we trusted there would be a readership for something different - but we couldn't be certain.

The readers came at once. The Guardian had about 1 million unique Australian readers each month before we launched, people who liked our international coverage. That jumped quickly to 2 million a month. It's now well over 7 million.

you may also like

Resort Casinos Likely Scuttled Under Amended Bermuda Legislation
  • by travelpulse
  • descember 09, 2016
Resort Casinos Likely Scuttled Under Amended Bermuda Legislation

Premier announces changes to long-delayed project

read more