Independent media growth in Australia is accelerating. As print media continues to decline, the mainstream media operators lose ground even faster in the online space. Our third quarterly report on independent media gives cause for optimism.
On a day when Crikey announced much welcome additions to their journalism ranks, it is great to be able to report the continued growth of online independent media (1) in Australia! In our third quarterly report, the 27 online sites(2) that we track grew their web traffic numbers by 21.74% from February to May 2019. With the previous period growth of 10%, that is a whopping 33.9% compound growth over the last six months.
Crikey is one of the outstanding performers on the list with 49% monthly growth in visits – to 446,000 in May according to SimilarWeb. They’ll need that kind of growth to help support the addition of a dozen journalists in their new INQ unit (”Inquiry Journalism”), but they seem to have found the right balance with their subscription model.
May was, of course, an election month, no doubt adding fuel to the numbers for progressive stalwart IndependentAustralia.net who had almost 500,000 visits in May. MichelWest.com.au’s growth of 67% was fueled also by their fearless and incisive coverage of Watergate and other stories uncovering the corpocracy and its tax minimisation – as well as trying (sadly, somewhat in vain) to put franking credits in a proper perspective.
John Menadue’s “Pearl & Irritations” collection of seasoned and diverse commentators also increased its audience by 32%; but as a connoisseur of satire, I was especially pleased to see The Chaser almost trebling its audience from February to May.
Granted, many of the sites on the list have significant peaks and troughs month-on-month governed by the number of articles posted. In an election month, the overall output was also much higher than average, adding to readership numbers.
However, the same would be true for mainstream media. We use the “big four” (SMH, The Age, The Australian and News.com.au) as a benchmark for growth and in the same period their combined online visits dropped 1.7%.
The Guardian (au) grew by 10.2% and The New Daily by 26,4%. Neither are included in our independent index(2) but should both be counted as challengers to the mainstream behemoths.
And although ABC has copped a fair bit of criticism lately, it remains a substantial bastion against the infotainment giants of Nine and Murdoch; its 67 million online visits(3) in May was up 10.9% on February – the only one close to it was news.com.au with 49.4 million Australian visits, down 13.4%(4).
In a world where print readership continues to decline (down 7.9% from March 2018 to March 2019 according to Roy Morgan) and is being replaced by online media consumption, independent and challenger media is growing fast as mainstream media is in decline on all fronts.
Independent media is on the rise(5), keep supporting it whenever and however you can.
(1) For our definition of independent media – click here.
(2) List of sites included in index
(3) Using publicly available data we are unable to report on specific sections of their portal
(4) The decline for news.com.au was partially offset by a similar nominal increase in visits to theaustralian.com.au
(5) Click here for google spreadsheet containing independent media data