Zara and Sam with their new book, No Silly Questions.
Zara and Sam with their new book, No Silly Questions.
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There are no silly questions

Co-founders of The Daily Aus, Zara Seidler and Sam Koslowski are under no illusions that their new book covers every single topic. But it covers issues that come up most in conversations so that anyone can partake in factual discussions about the news. The AJN spoke to Zara about everything TDA and No Silly Questions.

Main image by Zara and Sam with their new book, No Silly Questions.

When Zara Seidler and Sam Koslowski started The Daily Aus (TDA), they never dreamed it would grow to almost 500,000 followers.

Well, Zara didn’t. Sam, she said, is a deep optimist.

“I didn’t think the country as a whole would react like this,” Zara told The AJN as the duo released their new book No Silly Questions. “But I think it’s really affirming of how much work has gone into it and how much care, and the fact that we’re speaking across from the audience, rather than down.”

While Zara said people often ask the pair what the ‘secret sauce’ is, she acknowledged that at the end of the day, it’s quite simple. They know their audience because they are their audience.

“We communicate in their language and try to deliver our messaging as appropriately as possible.”

That language is bite-sized, easily digestible news delivered on social media, and via newsletters and podcasts – meeting their youth audience where they want to get their information. Importantly though, Zara said while they cater to youth, that’s not their only audience.

“The most common message we get, on average I’d say every single day, is ‘I know I’m not your target audience but …,'” Zara laughed. “For us, we know this isn’t age-specific. But the reason we say we’re trying to target young people is that if you look at the media market more generally, young people are quite traditionally underserved. We certainly don’t want people to think that we’re only speaking to young people, but we want them to know that there is a service that is there for them.”

So, with such a successful media company already, where did the idea for the book come in? As Zara said, the book was never part of the plan. The pair were actually approached by their publisher, asking whether they had ever considered writing a book.

After a few conversations, Zara and Sam realised that there could be some benefit to having all the information in one place. Again, it was about ensuring information was accessible, written in the language of their audience, and as an added bonus, the book could become something that readers refer to on an ongoing basis.

“I want everyone to feel like it’s their space to be in, no matter their level of education or what they do for work. I want it to be that the news is for everyone, not just news people.”

In the introduction for No Silly Questions, Zara and Sam write, “Any question you have about the news is a good one. A worthy one.” And this is the backbone of the book, noting that the news can be a space where anyone and everyone feels comfortable.

While they acknowledge the news is an ever-evolving space, they tried to ensure the book is as evergreen as possible, tackling topics such as the Australian political system, the economy, the world around us and health.

More than discussing these topics – and being a guidebook to help people understand the nitty-gritty concepts – Zara said the book is designed as a tool to help people learn to read the news.

“If anything, it should be the foundation that they then use to help them understand the rest of the media landscape, not just The Daily Aus,” she said. “My ultimate hope would be that people feel empowered to ask questions and to have conversations,” she continued, saying often political or economic conversations can exclude a lot of people.

“I want everyone to feel like it’s their space to be in, no matter their level of education or what they do for work. I want it to be that the news is for everyone, not just news people.”

As for how the duo chose the topics to cover, Zara said it all came down to their TDA followers.

“We are very lucky to have this constant feedback loop with our audience. We can always ask them and survey them and speak to them about what it is that they want or need from the news,” Zara explained.

“We have been able to very easily glean what’s important to a young audience and specifically our audience, and that really guided a lot of the decisions we made around what was going to be included. We’re under no illusions. It’s not going to cover everything, but we wanted to just hit those topics that people might feel come up in conversation and they just want to be equipped with some of the talking points to be able to contribute to those conversations.”

For Zara and Sam, it came down to providing the facts, free of political bias, so readers could start to build their own opinions and our own thoughts on the subject.

Over the course of the past few years, Zara said she has experienced many ‘pinch me’ moments, saying it’s a “very special feeling” to have built such a successful business. One of those pinch-me moments was sitting down with the prime minister and the opposition leader ahead of the election, and working with the Electoral Commission to increase enrolment. The success of that campaign was reflected in the fact that last election enjoyed the highest youth enrolment the country has ever seen.

But ultimately, Zara said it’s all about ensuring their audience feels seen.

“It’s just about sitting back and being able to reflect on them and understand that we have hopefully carved out a niche in the market, where young people feel heard and feel like their voices are reflected back in the media.”

No Silly Questions is published by Penguin Life, $35 rrp

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