As a visual-led, social-first news service, this Australian start-up is redefining how young people consume information.
The Daily Aus is one of Australia’s leading, social-first news services. It was co-founded in 2017 by Zara Seidler and Sam Koslowski, two friends and journalists in their twenties. What started as an Instagram account to update friends and family on current affairs has evolved into the go-to news platform for hundreds of thousands of young Australians.
“We were those friends who were always asked what’s going on in the news, and we wanted to take it to a bigger platform,” says Sam.
Four years later, The Daily Aus now delivers the news to over 350,000 people through their Instagram, website, and podcast every day. From local politics to international economics, the team makes complex topics accessible with their clear and digestible visual explanations.
While The Daily Aus is an independent news start-up, they face the same challenge that mainstream media companies and broadcasters do — keeping people engaged in an overstimulating environment.
From notifications from social apps to emails and ads, people are now bombarded with distractions when they consume the news. “We know everyone's on mobile and we know they're reading the news on mobile,” says Sam. “Our challenge is to keep them engaged on their phones.”
Delivering the news to a Gen Z and Y audience presents additional challenges. Young people are no longer engaging with news like they once did — and not because they’re not interested in the content.
“It's not written for them and it's just inaccessible for them,” says Zara. Many young Australians are also distrusting of mainstream publishers, perceiving them as partisan, or financially motivated. “Young people don't want that: they want the truth and they want objectivity,” says Zara.
In the modern media landscape, it’s no longer the traditional news outlets that The Daily Aus is competing with. With many young consumers getting their news from bite-sized TikTok or Reels or ephemeral Stories, their biggest competitor is the attention economy itself.
Design is The Daily Aus’ most valuable tool in attracting and holding that attention for the right reasons. “We use design to set a different tone to information that might be hard to swallow and make it accessible,” says Sam. “So that when you're on a bus and on your phone, you're not immediately daunted by black and white, plain text.”
Without any formal design experience, The Daily Aus team needed a beginner-friendly tool that would allow them to create visuals just as compelling as their words. While they started out using Canva as just a design tool, it has now become the end-to-end editorial solution that drives their daily news operations.
With Canva’s creation and collaboration tools, The Daily Aus team can write their content, create the visuals and schedule to their social media channels, all in one convenient place.
“I think of Canva as the hub for the content and the imagery and the social aspects, all coming together,'' says Zara. “It’s not just our design tool, it’s our writing tool, too.”
The Daily Aus team publishes between 5 to 10 updates to their Instagram feed every day. They often use multi-frame carousel posts to deliver the key points of a news story in a digestible way. Canva has allowed the team to set up branded templates for these posts, which helps to keep up with the fast-moving news cycle.
“We worked really hard to set up the right templates, so that we didn't have to reinvent the wheel every time we had to design,” says Sam.
Now, the team can quickly customize these carousel templates with relevant text and images. They also alternate between color schemes, to make sure the content stands out on their grid.
Running a business with friends is not without its challenges — especially when working remotely. Canva’s collaboration tools allows Zara and Sam to maintain open and honest channels of communication.
With Canva, they can easily add comments and feedback on each other's work, to make it even better. “It’s the way we share reviews and help each other understand what needs to change,” says Sam.
They can also collaborate in real-time, from any location or time zone to get content post-ready, faster. “I think the best part is that we can go in and just edit each other's work, in separate places and at separate times” says Zara. “We can collaborate on one piece of work, and he can fix up my design errors and I his.”
Co- founder of The Daily Aus
Like many young entrepreneurs, Zara and Sam left their corporate jobs for the freedom — not to sit in front of a computer all day. With Canva’s mobile-friendly design tools, they can continue to create engaging and polished content from any device, anywhere in the world.
“Canva has allowed us to look a lot more organized and polished than we actually are,” says Sam. “You wouldn't think that we're publishing on a mobile phone, out the back of a camper van on a road trip, without a graphic designer.”
Collaborative design tools have also helped The Daily Aus create a streamlined workflow for their growing team of remote journalists. “We’ve got a mobile workforce who can go on a holiday while they're working,” says Zara. “Our journalists are already going straight to Canva to produce their content — we don't need them to send it to us in any other form."
The Daily Aus’ readers know when they see the bright graphics, fun imagery and the coffee cup icon in their feeds that it’s time for their daily news update.
Canva has been instrumental in helping The Daily Aus achieve this instant brand recognition. “Our visual identity is entirely wrapped up in our Canva use,” says Zara. “That's how people know us and they'll continue to know us that way because we'll continue to use Canva.”
Canva now touches every part of The Daily Aus’ business model — including their monetization streams. As an independent publisher, their content is free from paywalls and advertising. Instead, they drive revenue by partnering with aligned brands in their daily podcast and newsletter.
“We've used Canva for everything from our pitch decks that we take to corporations, right down to our artwork for our podcasts,” says Sam. “We’ve even used it to create advertising campaigns and event invitations.”
Canva is part of The Daily Aus’ bigger mission to reimagine the modern newsroom
“Our model for the future is that everyone should be able to have an entire newsroom on their mobile,” says Sam. “We just needed to surround ourselves with the right tool in order to execute that.”
With Canva by their side, The Daily Aus is not only redefining what modern news looks like, but also the future of the journalism industry.
“Being a good journalist is now no longer just about being a good writer,” says Sam. “It’s also about being a good designer and a good publisher.”
Thankfully, Canva makes those skills accessible to all.