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Inside the newsroom: Adelaide’s independent InDaily

InDaily is arguably the jewel in Solstice Media’s crown. The Adelaide-based online publication, which grew from a weekly newspaper launched in 2004, has leapt up the digital readership rankings recently.

Solstice Media’s David Washington.

We caught up with Solstice Media’s editorial director David Washington to find out how the InDaily team approach their journalism and how they’ve built a strong, diversified business model.

What patch does InDaily cover?

We’re a public interest digital news site covering Adelaide and South Australia more broadly.

How often do you publish and how many readers do you reach?

We publish at least two emailed newsletters to our subscribers each weekday — sometimes more as news breaks — as well as a Sunday magazine-style newsletter.

We’ve seen huge increases in readership over the past two years leading to our highest ever ranking by Nielsen — number 22 for Australian news sites with a unique audience of 771,000 in December 2021. For an independent news site focused on public interest journalism, we see this as an enormous achievement.

How many editorial team members work on the publication?

Eight core team members, plus some contributors and freelancers. We’re published by Solstice Media — South Australia’s largest media company — which publishes a range of titles and employs 80 people in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

Which federal, state and local electorates do you cover?

Politics is a key area of reporting for us, so we cover all of the electorates in South Australia at all levels of government.

Wine and food are some of South Australia’s key industries, which are covered by InDaily. Image: Mikael Andreasson/Unsplash

What are the key industries and economies in your region?

South Australia has been an economy in transition for the past few decades, but we’re known for our wine and food production, other primary industries, defence, arts and culture, mining and resources, manufacturing, increasingly in high-tech areas, and much more.

What is the history of your organisation?

InDaily grew out of The Independent Weekly — a weekly print newspaper that started publishing in 2004 out of a desire by many South Australians to have a new media voice in the state. In 2010, we became one of the first Australian publishers to transition a print newspaper to digital-only, a strategy that has worked well for us in the long run but offered some challenges along the road.

Those challenges, though, have led to innovation: we run a series of editorially-relevant events, we’ve successfully introduced the InDaily model to Queensland — a public interest news website called InQueensland —  and we’ve diversified into other areas.

Solstice publishes a high quality print magazine, SALIFE, and a younger-focused street magazine, CityMag. In the past 12 months, we’ve also launched a not-for-profit arts journalism project – InReview – which has been strongly supported by JNI. InDaily is free to access and, as well as advertising and other sources of commercial income, we have a strong and growing collection of readers who donate to us because they believe in our work.

What recent stories are you most proud and what stories have made the most impact in your community? 

Our coverage has been influential in many areas: we’ve uncovered allegations of sexual impropriety in the legal system; our work helped to secure safe drinking water for an outback community; we’ve put a spotlight on weaknesses in the state’s mental health services.

Our political coverage is fiercely independent. Over the past year, the latter work has been significant in bringing to light potentially historic shifts in the membership of the Liberal Party, with a huge recruitment drive within the Pentecostal church movement.

As editorial director what has been your editorial focus and priorities that has led to these recent successes?

Independence is our guiding principle and it has supported by the entire company, from the editorial floor to management. This means that our primary focus is serving the interests of our community and that’s reflected in our journalism. From the Independent Weekly days to today with InDaily, our reporters have always had freedom and a large degree autonomy in their work — they pursue stories they care about, based on their understanding of our community.

Have you won any awards recently?

We’ve had a good track record in winning awards. A recent highlight in 2021 was reporter Stephanie Richards winning the Young Journalist of the Year award in two different award programs — the SA Media Awards and the SA Press Club awards.

What resources do you need to do journalism better?

In a relatively small newsroom, one of our biggest challenges is to provide professional development opportunities for reporters at all points in their career, while keeping the daily journalism running. As we’ve grown, this has become easier, particularly for younger reporters, but I would like to see more opportunities for experienced journalists to refresh their skills and learn new ones.

Beyond that, it’s a tough job and new perspectives are very useful. I’d like to find more — and more affordable — opportunities for our experienced reporters to gain new perspectives and meet like-minded journalists in other jurisdictions. I had the opportunity a few years ago to attend the editorial leadership course at the Poynter Institute in Florida and it was transformational for my career.

Read more from InDaily.