The Saturday Paper is the “small but handsome mongrel, a blue heeler” of the Australian press, editor Erik Jensen wrote in its first editorial on Saturday, March 1. Indeed, the paper’s first edition gave a perspective on a number of current issues but encountered challenges in its distribution.
With a front page feature on Scott Morrison and the Manus Island detention centre, the first issue received an “overwhelmingly positive” response, Mr Jensen reported. “Feedback from readers was really strong.”
He cited comment pieces from David Marr and Richard Flanagan as two of the most favoured pieces, and said Martin McKenzie-Murray’s candid and poignant interview with Rosie Batty, mother of young murder victim Luke Batty, was “very strongly received.”
The print run of 100,000 was fully taken up by newsagents. While the number sold will not be known until after Wednesday when returns are collected, the run is set to be increased in coming weeks.
However, the launch was not without its teething problems.
There were issues with distribution and home delivery, but circulation and distribution staff were on hand over the weekend to handle queries, a spokesperson for The Saturday Paper said.
“As to be expected with any new product being launched we are working to refine our processes and systems now that we are in market,” she said. “We are taking on board feedback from our customers, newsagencies and the teams working in the distribution chain and acting on this in the coming days.”
“Overall…we have been thrilled with the response to our launch issue,” she said. “The majority of newsagencies sold out of the first issue and have increased their allocation for this week.
“The response we have had from readers has also been overwhelmingly positive.”
Mr Jensen agreed that before deciding just where The Saturday Paper has landed in the market, and how much of a splash it has made, “we’ll need to wait on feedback about who bought it.
“But anecdotally and on social media, and from people on the streets, we did what we set out to do,” he said.
“We’ve brought a new generation to newspapers – I saw a lot of young people holding our newspaper. We’ve also returned to newspapers people who stopped buying them. That’s two things that we set out to do, that we’ve achieved.”
The business was by nature “a constant battle towards more news,” Mr Jensen said.
“Hopefully our next edition will be better than our first! There’s no singular lesson.
“There’s a need in news to be constantly hoping that things will work out.”
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