Media Talk: The Weekend Australian Magazine's relaunch

Media Talk: The Weekend Australian Magazine's big glossy revamp

The Weekend Australian Magazine's Christine Middap
The nation's newspaper-inserted magazines are a drawcard for many media consumers who don't pick up the newspaper on a daily basis but might wander into a newsagent over the weekend or on the occasion that these value-adds are published on a weekday. They are also shared and consumed at cafes and workplaces and libraries. 

Essentially what they provide is great journalism, much of it long-form, at no extra cost, with limited advertising impinging on pages that take in top-notch photojournalism, too. Of course, in financial survival terms, they are also at the behest of their host newspapers' performance. It's a symbiotic relationship that gives publishers the impetus to keep things fresh and NIM editors considerable clout.

Following on from Good Weekend magazine's redesign last year, next month The Weekend Australian Magazine, published by News Magazines and housed in The Weekend Australian (News Limited), will launch its new look. The larger size magazine, said to capture the "big personalities that exist in Australia, the big ideas and the big country that we serve", will feature a new masthead, a modernised design and a glossy format.

"To redesign one of Australia’s much loved magazines has been a privilege and a responsibility," says editor Christine Middap, who joined the team from QWeekend in March. "Readers can still expect the big profiles and the revealing stories behind the news, but it’s also about capturing the national conversation with stories that matter to readers, whether they are in the nation’s boardrooms, beaches or the local cafĂ©."

Two new columnists, author Nikki Gemmell and fashion editor Damien Woolnough (formerly of Vogue Australia) will join the line-up, in addition to author and Media Diary columnist Caroline Overington as a staff writer. David Herbet will still oversee food, James Halliday wines and John Lethlean the best Australian restaurants, while polemicist Phillip Adams will have the last word.

"My approach is quite simple: to give readers something to think about, something to laugh about and something to talk about," adds Middap. "It’s about connecting with readers and taking them on a journey complete with unexpected pleasures, visual feasts and thought-provoking articles. We have a great stable of columnists and I’m thrilled to welcome Nikki to the magazine. She is a proven writer with an international reputation and I can’t wait to read her observations about life."   

The competition between the Saturday NIMs is hot on the eastern border. The most recent audit results, for March 2011, show Good Weekend, published in The Saturday Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, has a combined circulation* of 605,827 copies (the key markets are NSW and Victoria), and a combined readership** of 1,601,000, while The Weekend Australian has a circulation of 293,978 and national readership of 865,000, and The Courier Mail's Qweekend has a circulation of 278,313 circ and 557,000 readership.   

In commercial terms, according to Nielsen Market Intelligence, Good Weekend earned Fairfax a combined $39,301,261 in advertising revenue in 2010, representing a fall on 2009 revenue and drop off in ad pages (keeping in mind that ad pages are often state-specific, garnering revenue from both NSW and Victoria), while the national The Weekend Australian Magazine earned News Limited $14,514,063 in 2010, an 11% drop on 2009 revenue, with 11% fewer ad pages, too. Qweekend, also put out by News Limited, gained ground with revenue of $11,592,851 and a nominal lift in ad pages.

Zara Curtis, commercial director at News Magazines, is hopeful that the high production values and new large glossy format will attract premium advertisers looking to reach a national audience. "There will be a little bit of celebrity, a sprinkle of zeitgeist and tonnes of personality, creating an environment that is ideal for attracting new readers and advertisers," says Curtis.

Presiding over integrated ad campaigns at News Limited is News[paper] Magazines, a division of the company that recently introduced a national buying and rate-card across the company's stable of magazines. 

In the NIM marketplace, the Sunday magazines are also ones to watch, with The Sunday Mail's U on Sunday (News Limited), launched in March, off to an impressive start, News Magazines' Sunday magazine, published in NSW and Victoria, boasting a combined circulation of 1,167,422, and Fairfax's Sunday Life (also NSW and Vic) registering a 655,400 circulation. 

The new-look The Weekend Australian Magazine will be distributed with The Weekend Australian on August 20, 2011. 

*Audit Bureau of Circulations, March 2011
** Roy Morgan Research

Girl With a Satchel


Nikki @ Styling You said...

I worked with Christine when she was a journalist on a regional Queensland publication. It's no surprise she has been put in this role. She has amazing insight into current issues and the people behind those issues.

Anonymous said...

How I miss the Sydney Weekend papers. Sigh. Particularly the S section! Perth's weekend magazines/newspapers are rubbish and only useful for making paper mache hats.