New Australia newspaper launch bucks closure trend

A new weekly newspaper launched in Australia on Saturday, bucking the trend of closures and the focus on digital with the editor saying demand remained for quality journalism.

The Saturday Paper, with a staff of renowned writers, hit news stands as a competitor to established mastheads including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

"Never have newspapers faced greater perils, both financially and from the more insidious creep of ideology," it said in its first editorial.

"In this relief, it has never been clearer what they lack and what they most need: confidence, inquisitiveness, independence, occasional folly, passion, insight, moments of rage, frequent surprise, a skinned knee here and some delicacy elsewhere.

"The Saturday Paper begins publication today because we are confident this is what we can do."

Produced by publisher and property developer Morry Schwartz, who is also responsible for arts and current affairs magazine The Monthly, it said it had no agenda and no vested interests and would cover the week's news in greater depth.

Its launch, including online and as a mobile app, although it is primarily an old-fashioned newspaper, comes barely a month after the demise of not-for-profit online news site The Global Mail.

It enters a market where Australia's main media players, Rupert Murdoch's News Australia and rival Fairfax, are increasingly transitioning to digital in a bid to combat sliding print advertising and circulation revenues.

Other digital offerings include The Guardian, which launched locally last May, while Britain's Daily Mail is due to follow suit this year.

Many of the staff on The Saturday Paper are those made redundant by News Australia and Fairfax and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the competition to the established players.

"The Internet has smashed the business model of those papers by providing a more cost-effective platform for advertising," he said.

"But the launch of the Saturday Paper today shows rumours of the death of newspapers, even printed ones, appear to be exaggerated.

"Even though I expect to disagree with a lot of things in your paper, I probably agree with quite a few too. I welcome that diversity."

The newspaper initially has a 100,000 print run.