If it could get the dollars to warrant it, Margy Vary, marketing director for The Guardian Australia, has said they would love to be in regional Australia.
Currently, the digital publisher has five offices around the country, all in capital cities; Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin.
It comes down to money basically whether the publisher branches out into regional areas. However, Vary noted that it’s something The Guardian should be doing.
“The real challenge is the funding and how do you make it financially sustainable to cover those areas when the population is so small?” she told B&T during a wide-ranging interview.
The future of regional media was put in the spotlight recently when APN News & Media announced its intention to sell off its regional assets due to a seven per cent profit slide and “challenging environments”, a move which journalism ethics body MEAA (Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance) condemned.
“MEAA is concerned that APN fails to appreciate the importance of the regional mastheads to local communities,” the industry body said in a statement, adding already jobs had been lost as a result of a number of cuts.
The Guardian Australia’s Vary noted too that audience for the publication are also found in regional areas, not just the capital cities along the Eastern seaboard and Darwin.
Vary equated the issue to her time working for Virgin Airlines. At the time she said they had a bit of a gripe that main rival Qantas was able to get governmental funding to provide regional flights.
And she realised then how expensive it was for an airline to provide access to regional areas, so it needed public funding to do it.
The same goes for media, she said.
“Similarly with a media outlet, you kind of need some sort of benefactor or some way…you can’t just rely on advertising.”
The Guardian as a whole is owned by The Scott Trust, meaning the publisher doesn’t have any shareholders or proprietor, and so doesn’t receive governmental funding.
When questioned whether governmental funding would be something the publication would consider, Vary said probably not, but that they do have a number of philanthropic avenues people who want to get involved can go down.
“At the moment, we’re really trying to become financially sustainable and we have to pay back our loan.”
The current strategy has The Guardian Australia hoping it will have stabilised itself by 2019.
“We’re on track. So 2019 we should be in a good place.”
B&T conducted this interview at WOMAD festival in Adelaide, of which we travelled there as a guest of The Guardian’s.
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