Q&A with The Betoota Advocate: “I Wish I’d Never Done This”

Q&A with The Betoota Advocate: “I Wish I’d Never Done This”
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The Betoota Advocate, Australia’s oldest newspaper, is carving out its space on the world wide web, launching a podcast with Acast.

While the details of the podcast are still largely under wraps, the Walkley-awarded editors (needs to be fact-checked) hint they will be expanding their sport and crime categories in response to the appetite of their readers.

B&T sat down with the Betoota natives, as well as Acast’ country manager Henrik Isaksson to find out more about the podcast and how the men thrust a regional newspaper into the public sphere.

B&T: You’re one of Australia’s oldest newspapers, so what prompted the move into the modern age?

Errol Parker: This was an extension of our transition online. It was always going to happen but it was just a matter of finding the right time and the right people to make this long, hard road into podcasting worthwhile.

B&T: Are you competing against other podcasts in your hometown of Betoota?

Clancy Overell: I dare say we’ll be the number one podcast in Betoota when this thing eventually launches. Everyone else in our town, they’re all still tied to the hot hit format of radio broadcasting which doesn’t appear online.

B&T: What are the readers of Betoota hoping for from the podcast?

EP: I guess we’re gonna be tapping into the psyche and the news cycle as we do with the publication and we’ll be bringing different guests onto the show in the same voice and the same accessible format that everyone’s come to know.

B&T: In wider Australia, you have big competitors such as News Corp, do you think you’ll be the next News Corp?

CO: We’d love to be able to dictate who wins an election but I think for the time being it’s more about the smaller wins for us and we’ve actually found our success by not picking sides or having other vested interests. And also we pay our tax, so that’s a big difference.

B&T: You’re a roaring success nationwide, how are you handling the newfound fame?

EP: It’s hollow and vapid, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I wish I’d never done this.

CO: It is exciting. You get to meet a whole lot of people from different walks of life and it kind of helps with the content.

B&T: Speaking of fame, I’m sure you’ve become familiar with the Australian media landscape, given you’re quite a big part of it. So, who do you think will survive and who won’t?

EP: I think the people who are gonna go are the ones who aren’t diversifying their revenue streams. If you rely too much on one road, I think you’re bound to get stuck in traffic and run out of petrol.

CO: We’ve seen that with our beer and our other operations is that we can always find different avenues to explore. We don’t do it out of a matter of necessity, but it definitely does help us reach people in different places – and podcasting will do just that.

B&T: In the era of tweets and headlines, how are you making long-form journalism and podcasts relevant?

CO: That might be the difference I think, with us. We still adhere to the old trite and true of balanced, thought-out and well-explained news reporting. I think the snackable types of media, while it is immediately gratifying and much more in line with the audiences shortening attention span, I think there’s always going to be a place for what we do.

We’re not in the business of listicles or hot takes journalism, we’ll continue what we’re doing – and the numbers indicate that’s what everyone wants from us, what they expect from us.

B&T: Given the risqué nature of your commentary and the exclusive scoops, how do you keep advertisers onside?

EP: I think it’s about keeping a happy medium, just not being that hectic.

CO: We don’t change our format or our style for anyone. It’s kind of what you see is what you get, and when it comes to advertisers and people who booked to work with us, they kind of have to get what they see.

EP: The advertisers know what they’re getting in for. They generally do come to the table with a pretty firm idea of what we do.

Henrik Isaksson: I think the brand and the agencies that we’ve spoken to, loads of them aren’t publicly very aware of the Betoota brand but I think also, that’s what makes it more exciting.

It is untapped, but then also keeping the journalistic freedom to keep writing what they want, and that’s also the way we would like to work with brands in the podcasting space. We want to work with them in a seamless, yet integrated way.

B&T: What got you interested in working with The Betoota Advocate?

HI: I’m a fan. Looking at the content landscape in Australia, they lack this type of audio content, but with so many untapped stories to be told, I could not think of a better publication than Betoota to do so.

CO: A lot of Australian brands sit in the same space as we do in the country’s media landscape and they should all feel more than welcome to come and have a chat.

B&T: So finally, what kind of format will the podcast be; are we talking interviews?

CO: There’ll be an element of that, and in true Betoota fashion, they won’t be there to plug anything, they’ll be there to have a chat. Anyone who wants to get involved with us in a brand capacity is welcome to though. I think that’s what everyone’s kind of hoping for, both listeners, us and other partners.

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