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New Daily copping early criticism

Emily Woods / November 21, 2013 09:50 AM

The Australian has hit out at new digital publication The New Daily, claiming it is taking money from “hardworking Australians” through its superannuation funding.

The New Daily was launched on Wednesday the 13th November and is an independent news site without a paywall.

The New Daily

Source: The New Daily

The website has 15 full time staff and a content-sharing agreement with AAP and ABC.

News Corporation reported Senator Williams called for ASIC investigation into the operation of the news website, which is funded by AustralianSuper, Cbus and Industry Super Holdings. 

At a Senate Economics Legislation Committee hearing yesterday, Senator Williams called on Australian Securities & Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft to ‘have a very close look at’ the project.

Senator Williams questioned whether the website was using money from "hard-working Australians".

"You wonder what returns are in it for hard-working Australians," Senator Williams said. He noted the current poor economic climate for news products. - See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/media/excess-fees-used-for-daily-asic-called-to-investigate-super-media-foray/story-e6frg996-1226764779582#sthash.F4OPTWs5.dpuf
"You wonder what returns are in it for hard-working Australians," Senator Williams said. He noted the current poor economic climate for news products. - See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/media/excess-fees-used-for-daily-asic-called-to-investigate-super-media-foray/story-e6frg996-1226764779582#sthash.F4OPTWs5.dpuf

News Corp also criticised the quality of stories The New Daily is publishing:

Yesterday, the majority of stories on the site were directly from the ABC and AAP… Many other news stories featured prominently were out of date, such as a list of tips for the Oaks Day races, held three weeks ago.

Source: Welcome to The New Daily from The New Daily on Vimeo.

News Corp is not the only one skeptical about the new online start up, operated by former Age and Herald Sun editor Bruce Guthrie and Eric Beecher. 

The Conversation questioned whether the superannuation funding will impact on editorial independence:

To some extent this could be seen as a direct investment into a potential profit-making venture, but there are also issues of journalistic freedom, political-aligned ownership, the use of super funds, and conflicts of interest. Is this a good use of members’ funds?

It is a case of why buy a banner ad when you can buy the website? It certainly gives the owner more control of content, agenda setting, and what can and cannot be posted on the website aimed at its members.

But Bruce Guthrie has defended the publication through and through over the past couple of weeks.

He told ABC Breakfast the superannuation funds will have no say in the editorial direction and have all agreed to a charter of independence.

"That sets out how we will cover stories and it's made clear that whether it's superannuation, politics, industrial relations, we'll cover it without fear or favour, we'll give everyone their side, their side of the story, but we won't be slanting stories." Guthrie said.

Mumbrella reported Guthrie, who set up the Age’s website in 1996 and relaunched the Herald Sun’s in 2001, is confident that the digital news site is what the public is looking for.

“I can tell you those (Age and Herald Sun) websites were created with a print mindset,” Guthrie said.

“That still exists within News and Fairfax that they approach digital with a print mindset but what we have done is say we don’t have to worry about that what is a digital news site and what should it look like.”

Guthrie said he is confident the site will still be alive next year and is adamant that they will not have to put a paywall up.

“What we have seen in our research that there is an increasing frustration with these porous paywalls which lock you out after 15 or 30 articles,” Guthrie said.

“Providing good quality journalism for free, and the super funds have made it clear they will never charge for journalism is a significant selling point for the website.”

Only time will tell whether another online news venture will survive.

Sources: Crikey, The Australian, Mumbrella, ABC Online.

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