Katharine Viner, Editor of Guardian Australia / Photo: Twitter
Katharine Viner, Editor of Guardian Australia / Photo: Twitter

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After announcing The Guardian will be launching an Australian operation, the British news-publishing giant has acquired office space in Surry Hills.

The site located at 35 Reservoir St will have a five-year lease and be able to accommodate up to 40 journalists. It will be located around the corner from rival News Limited.

The move promises to contribute to Australia’s media diversity and increase competition in the nation’s highly concentrated news market, currently dominated by News Limited and Fairfax Media.

Dr Timothy Dwyer, a leading scholar on media policy at the University of Sydney, has praised the move as adding interest to an otherwise “bland” mainstream media scene.

“I think it’s a terrific development … Guardian News and Media are an excellent brand, and they have alredy snaffled up some of the finest journalists in the country,” he said.

Launch Editor Katharine Viner said the operation aims to capitalise on an existing Australian readership.

“We already have a large number of Australian readers … [who want us] to cover the issues that really matter to the nation and connect our Australian readers to The Guardian’s global network of correspondents and commentators,” said Ms Viner in a statement.

Guardian Australia has confirmed the multiple appointments of well-known journalists, including award-winning writer David Marr.

“I am delighted to welcome these new recruits to Guardian Australia as we continue to add depth to our small but strong team of talented journalists,” said Ms Viner.

“All show a commitment to finding new ways to tell stories in this rapidly changing media landscape, and will help Guardian Australia deliver the on-the-ground reporting, ground-breaking open journalism and lively commentary that has made The Guardian the fourth-largest newspaper website in the world.”

Paul Chadwick, the outgoing Director of Editorial Policies at ABC and a Walkely Award-winner, will serve as a non-executive director of Guardian Australia. Mr Chadwick praised the contribution that the entity will make to Australia’s media diversity.

“Its decision to commit to Australia is cause for optimism that quality journalism will continue to fulfill its democratic function in this era of rapid media change,” he said.

The progressive journal, Independent Australia, also praised the move as “allowing another truly progressive and popular voice – but one with substantial resources – to enter into Australia’s media landscape and hopefully make a change for the better”.

But Dr Dwyer warned that is unlikely to make any significant change to the high level of Australia’s media ownership concentration.

“Their readership is skewed towards a very specific slice of the media audeince. They will tend to be readers who already have quite diverse media diets and are generally the best informed anyway,” he said.

Australia’s media landscape has continued to evolve, with News Limited last week introducing metered paywall model, news+, for The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun websites. Under the new model, customers will be charged $1 a day for the first 28 days and $4 per week after.

Dr Dwyer claimed the move is in response to a “global restructuring of media industries and the shift to online and mobile media”.

“News Corporation has lead the charge to introducing paywalls. I think it’s an unfortunate development for news media and for audiences,” he said.

“The main worry is the splintering of serious news in to various sub-genres that will increasingly be tailored to suit the ‘daily me’ whims of individuals’ often fairly habit-based interests. The wider perspective of ‘serious current affairs’ type of news is already the main casualty.”

News Limited’s Editorial Director, Campbell Reid, argued it is imperative that journalism adapts to technological changes.

“I don’t agree with the argument that says ‘just because you don’t have print costs, you shouldn’t charge’. We believe in our journalism. We believe it has value, and we believe that we can create digital products that people will value enough to pay for,” he said.

Guardian Australia will be launched as a digital edition later this year.