The Guardian has announced plans to launch an Australian version of its website led by deputy editor Katherine Viner.
The venture is being funded by entrepreneur Graeme Wood, founder of travel website wotif and chair of news website The Global Mail.
Wood has invested in the company “with a view to generating a commercial return and the venture will be commercial from day one”, said a GNM spokesperson.
The company said Wood “will have absolutely no editorial control or influence” and will not be joining the board or hold shares in the company.
GNM has declined to reveal details on how many journalists will be employed in the new Sydney Office, which will open later this year, but Viner said she will be building a “small Australian team”.
In today’s announcement The Guardian said the Australia launch was “a natural next step”, and that 1.3m of The Guardian’s claimed monthly global audience of 39m are based in Australia, making it the Guardian's fourth largest market.
This is such an exciting time to be launching the Guardian in Australia. We already have a large number of Australian readers, who tell us they want more of our on-the-ground reporting, lively commentary and groundbreaking open journalism. We will build a small Australian team 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.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said:
As a global media organisation with a history of growth and ambition, this is a natural next step for Guardian journalism. Our Australian digital edition will not only offer our unique take on Australia, a significant nation both regionally and globally, but will also serve as a base for reporting on, and engaging with, people across Asia. It will be of real benefit to our global audience, to see how dominant questions of our time – economics, geopolitics, climate change, immigration, media, democracy and more – are being grasped in such an important part of the world. The digital age has enabled the Guardian to be read by millions around the world and have an impact far beyond the dreams of those who launched the paper in Manchester, England in 1821.
Wood said: "I'm delighted to support the Guardian's expansion in Australia. It will add quality and diversity to our media as well as fostering a closer interaction between Australians and the rest of the world. Its award-winning digital innovation will also enrich the broader media and technology sector."
Writing on The Economist Group's Lean Back 2.0 blog, Guardian Media Group chief executive Andrew Miller said that in Australia "we see a gap in the market for a progressive, open and independent voice such as ours".
The news comes amid ongoing efforts by GNM to slash cut 100 editorial jobs in order to achieve annual savings of around £7m.