AT A time when much of the media is contracting, one outfit, Eric Beecher's Private Media, is expanding. Its latest title, Women's Agenda, will be launched today.
Aimed at career-minded women who want to keep their finger on the workplace pulse, the free online magazine will be the seventh to emerge from the Private Media stable as it eyes audiences and communities that it says have been abandoned or ignored by mainstream media.
With a target of between 100,000 and 200,000 women readers a month, Women's Agenda will be Private Media's second-largest title after Crikey and help drive its overall footprint of readers closer to 1 million a month. Crikey, which Mr Beecher bought from Stephen Mayne, was the foundation of his business.
Another title is in the pipeline, Crikey is to be relaunched next month, and the group is exploring ways to charge readers for bolt-on services, said its chief executive, Amanda Gome.
Access to Private Media's sites - with the exception of Crikey - will remain free, said Ms Gome, who views the erection of paywalls around some media sites with some scepticism.
She says readers are not prepared to pay for news that has been commoditised.
"If you look at the audience of the Herald Sun, the majority of them are not going to pay for news. You have to match the audience with the product," she said.
She has much the same view of Fairfax Media's chances when it puts paywalls around parts of its news websites next year.
"I think that the number of people who will be prepared to pay will be small and that is going to affect their overall numbers and their advertising proposition," she said.
Private Media's websites are tightly targeted at distinct audiences - the wealthiest 20 per cent of households in the country - and have a distinct role. SmartCompany is aimed at the small business market, Property Observer at the property investor and Women's Agenda at the nation's career women.
Its publisher, Marina Go, said there would be significant cross promotion to drive traffic.
She said the internet is going down the same path as magazines, which started with generalist, mass-market titles only to fragment into smaller, special-interest titles.