Crime reporting has been an area of content strength for News Corp Australia’s national stable of mastheads for many years, with our newspapers being a highly recognisable, award-winning network of investigative crime writers.

True Crime Australia (TCA) launched in July this year as a driver for new digital subscriptions and to provide already subscribed readers with another deeper product to reward their loyalty. It was a simple idea to pool premium resources under the one brand to flag that talent, as well as to tap into a growing public appetite for long-form crime storytelling. There also was recognition that a good crime story is a good crime story — regardless of the state or region where it occurred — and we were seeing that with cross-border hits and digital subscription crime stories we were attracting before the TCA launch.

In our first day of operation, TCA attracted more than a quarter of a million unique browser hits across our lead launch mastheads, including The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Herald Sun (Melbourne), The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), The Advertiser (Adelaide) and the Gold Coast Bulletin. We included the Gold Coast Bulletin, a non-capital city newspaper, as our research showed it had more digital subscribers per capita specifically to crime stories.

True Crime Australia features deep background information and investigative reporting about each crime in a variety of different formats.
True Crime Australia features deep background information and investigative reporting about each crime in a variety of different formats.

The launch, billed as Australia’s premium new home for compelling true crime storytelling, included a multi-channel creative marketing campaign to drive awareness and traffic to the site and engagement for those who were already readers.

Social media was particularly useful in driving traffic and interest. The response to date has been fantastic and has generated not only hits now measured in the millions, but immense positive feedback from audiences, and critically, new audiences with hundreds of new subscriptions specifically via the TCA breach page. We are absolutely thrilled with the result.

TCA is divided into categories for appeal, including Cold Cases, Behind the Scenes, Crime in Focus, Our Criminal History, and Book Extracts (the latter category particularly has proven popular).

Since launch, TCA has provided a voice to cases and crimes that have largely been forgotten by everyone except those directly linked. We did a story recently and the family cried when we contacted them out of the blue. They were overcome by the fact that someone had remembered their lost loved one after their file had been stamped “unsolved homicide” by a police department and sat gathering dust for 10 years.

Police for their part have given us a backhand compliment offering a cheeky “thanks for nothing” for increasing their caseloads with the new interest in cases and, in some instances, new leads the True Crime Australia vertical has directly created.

It’s a wonder people provide police with new information so many years after a crime, but that has been our experience. And there have been tangible results, including new leads, as a direct consequence of TCA’s coverage, which attracts national attention in the broader media. Every new piece of information we receive gets passed on to police, so they have been appreciative for the dedication, too.

TCA's multi-media storytelling includes podcasts and video interviews with reporters, law enforcement, and victims' families.
TCA's multi-media storytelling includes podcasts and video interviews with reporters, law enforcement, and victims' families.

Our newsrooms have been evolving for many years, certainly in the past five years where it was clear audiences were looking for genuinely deep digital engagement. That has required all of us to think differently, and TCA has helped in this regard.

The core of what we do has not changed — it is still all about good storytelling. But what that looks like has evolved and now must include video and image-rich, longer reports and podcasts. A good read can put you in the picture, but a podcast places you at the scene, almost makes you a character as you hear words that may seem unspeakable. Podcasts give a greater sense of emotion, and audiences have told us they want more. In our time-poor lives as well, particularly in commuter cities, it’s easy to listen to a good crime story on a podcast while stuck in traffic. TCA has filled that daily digital desire.  

Since launch and TCAs subsequent rise in popularity, we have now brought six other masthead titles into the TCA vertical. We will continue to bring in others from the News Corp Australia stable, as well as look to joint ventures with sister operations including Sky News Australia, Foxtel, and publisher Harper Collins. We continue to evolve True Crime Australia site with new features for greater user experience and appeal.