To borrow a phrase more usually used to describe stand-up comics’ storytelling skills, “it’s the way you tell ’em”.
And so it is on the morning of the release of new Australian news readership data (see Re-engineered data shows news reaches almost everyone).
Forget that the stats, issued on Friday with a Monday 12.01am embargo, were on the ThinkNewsBrands website yesterday – the group’s communications head tells me she will “speak to the CX team” about that – or that the small print needs careful reading and a clear head.
It’s what individual publishers make of it… the way they tell them. And there’s something for everyone.
For quick reference, there’s the ABIX summaries, produced by Roy Morgan (who also produced the base statistics):
–Financial Review increases readership (The Australian Financial Review, Edmund Tadros) tells how the new Total News readership figures show the Australian Financial Review increased its average monthly audience by 70,000 in the September quarter reaching 3.7 million readers across online and print; that AFR total readership increased two per cent year-on-year, while its weekday print readership grew by 22 per cent; it also acknowledges that while metro stablemate the Sydney Morning Herald's readership fell six per cent in the year to September, to 8.4 million unique readers per month, and readership of The Age by five per cent to 5.9 million, the two mastheads remained Australia's most-read publications.
–National flagship stays out in front (The Australian, James Madden) reports the national masthead’s average monthly cross-platform print and digital audience of 4.4 million, with quarterly survey data also showing that The Australian reaches 2.1 times more readers than the Australian Financial Review each weekday, as well as 4.4 times more readers on weekends. Meanwhile, Adelaide's The Advertiser has recorded the biggest growth in cross-platform audiences among News Corp's metropolitan mastheads (up 6.1 per cent year-on-year).
–The West's readership reaches staggering heights (The West Australian, online) relates that readership of The West’s weekday edition rose by 2.8 per cent year-on-year in the September quarter, its Saturday edition by 3.5 per cent, and that of the Sunday Times by 11 per cent. “The cross-platform audience of West Australian Newspapers' three main mastheads increased by 57,000 in the year to September, to 4.3 million readers every month.”
Careful use of the statistics leaves everyone looking good. I pay money to receive The Australian online so the idea that comparing its circulation with that of the AFR was ‘apples with apples’ raised eyebrows in my household. And yes, while News does have the largest total readership in the country, the 14.2 million of Nine’s two metro dailies is still pretty impressive (Sydney Morning Herald 8.4 million, The Age 5.8 million, ahead of News’ Herald Sun and The Australian, each at 4.4 million).
With no love lost between the newsmedia majors, it’s another busy Monday – traditionally a focus for media news – with the fallout from Peter Fray’s Walkleys outburst, and the AFR’s account (Murdochs lose two top editorial chiefs in dramatic 48 hours) of Australian editor Christopher Dore’s departure… but we won’t go there.