News Corp cuts number and delivery of Messenger newspapers

In this week’s column, big changes are coming for News Corp’s suburban newspaper network in Adelaide with titles to be merged and home deliveries cut back, and the Press Council finds against some particularly pointed SA coverage of the power crisis.

Jul 07, 2017, updated Jul 07, 2017

Messenger empire consolidates – again

News Corp’s Messenger newspaper group continues to shrink – both in terms of its physical reach across the Adelaide suburbs and in the number of mastheads.

Media agencies have been informed that three titles will be merged into neighbouring mastheads  and the print distribution will be cut in suburbs with low readership.

According to advice from one agency to clients, obtained by InDaily, from July 26, the Leader and East Torrens Messengers will be merged to create the “North Eastern Messenger” and The City will subsume the City North title. The Westside and Portside mastheads will be combined for advertising sales purposes, but will remain separate titles.

According to the advice seen by InDaily, Messengers will be delivered “where they are most valued”, with home deliveries being cut in some suburbs.

It’s the third major change in Messenger newspapers in just over a year.

In May last year, this column reported that Messenger had dropped deliveries to flats and units in favour of centralised distribution.

In October last year, it redesigned three of its titles and then rolled out the new design across the stable this year.

Messenger product Adelaide Matters was also scrapped as a stand-alone publication, becoming a section of other Messenger titles.

InDaily contacted Messenger editor-in-chief Jessica Leo-Kelton, who responded that she had addressed the changes in her regular radio spot on FIVEaa last week.

In that interview, she said a reader survey had found that more than 50 per cent of readers were happy to seek out a copy of their Messenger via means other than home delivery.

She also said the mergers were designed to produce bigger newspapers with more stories.

She told InDaily today that the changes would not result in job losses.

Press Council slaps down Tiser energy poll story

The Australian Press Council has found that an Advertiser story on South Australia’s power crisis breached its standards requiring accuracy, fairness and balance.

The story was published on March 17 after Premier Jay Weatherill’s spectacular public blow-up with federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The story was headed “BLOWING HIS FUSE: Sparks fly as Premier ambushes minister but exclusive polls reveal SA blames Jay for power crisis” in the print edition and, online, “As Jay Weatherill confronts Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, poll shows he’s to blame for SA’s power crisis”.

The Press Council wasn’t happy with the way the poll results were presented – and a subsequent refusal to correct the record.

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“The article contained a table setting out details and results of a poll, including the question asked of respondents (‘In your opinion, who is mostly to blame for South Australia’s high power prices and blackouts?’) and the responses (‘The Weatherill Government’, 39 percent; ‘The National Energy Market Operator/AEMO’, 35; ‘Uncommitted’, 16; and ‘The Turnbull Government’, 10),” the council ruling found.

“The Council considered the statement ‘polls reveal SA blames Jay for power crisis’ implied as a fact that the poll established that South Australians in general blamed the Premier for the crisis.

“However, the polling was a sample of only three electorates, and this polling size and distribution—even involving key marginal seats—cannot be said to reflect the opinion of the entire state.

“The Council also noted that the first paragraph of the article reported that the poll ‘show[s] voters in key marginal seats believe he [Mr Weatherill] is most likely to blame’, despite only 39 percent of the sample considering the Weatherill Government responsible.

“While the article subsequently made clear the true position, this was not done in a manner sufficient to redress the inaccuracy and misleading nature of the headline and first paragraph.

“Accordingly, the Council considered that the publication failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the headline and first paragraph were accurate and not misleading, which breached General Principle 1. Further, the Council did not consider the offer to publish a letter sufficient to remedy the inaccuracy, which warranted a correction. Accordingly, the publication breached General Principle 2.”

Principle 1 requires that council members “ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading, and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion”.

Principle 2 says that members should “provide a correction or other adequate remedial action if published material is significantly inaccurate or misleading”.

Watch this space

This column understands that ABC Radio Adelaide is considering big changes to its morning line-up following the departure of breakfast veteran Matthew Abraham.

Media Week is a regular column on Adelaide’s media, public relations and marketing industries.



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