9News reinvents the 6pm bulletin with dual hosts

By Ruby Derrick | 24 January 2024
Hugh Nailon.

Alicia Loxley and Tom Steinfort have joined 9News Melbourne’s 6pm bulletin as its newest hosting lineup; the fourth anchor change of the 6pm news since its inception. 

Melbourne news director Hugh Nailon says nightly news still works and the 6pm news bulletin will always remain an important part of the news diet for millions of Australians, despite people consuming news from the minute they wake up each morning. 

“Partly, because of routine. People get in the habit of structuring their family life around that. 6pm is a time to pause and take stock of what's happened during the day,” he told AdNews

When it’s 6pm, people are already familiar with the stories, notes Nailon. They’re vaguely aware through social, radio or websites of what the story is.

“What we’re trying to do at 6pm is to add context and to break news, as well as bringing a dynamism in the way we deliver that news,” says Nailon. 

“Having a double-header with Alicia and Tom will allow us to do that. They’re journalists who are able to break down stories themselves through explainers and live interviews.”

When a big story breaks in Melbourne, says Nailon, Nine will be able to get one of them to go to where the story is and broadcast from there. 

“It allows us to take our bulletin right where the story is,” he says. 

“By this time people know what's going on and what's happened throughout the day. At 6pm, we need to try and explain why that’s happened. To break it down for the viewers and explain where that story is going next.”

The question the 9News team asks themselves every day, which is up in its newsroom, is “What’s new, what’s happening now and what’s next?”, says Nailon. 

“The audience will also get that additional context they wouldn't get otherwise because we have the firepower of the journalism pedigree that 9News has,” he says. 

The new hosting lineup comes after Peter Hitchener’s 50 year tenure with the broadcaster, who now steps into a role to anchor the channel’s weekend news and continue his career at Nine..

Nailon says Nine felt it was time to modernise the way it does its news with the introduction of the co-anchors.

“Historically, 6pm is always 30 minutes. Ten years ago, we went to a one hour timeslot. There’s no doubt over the course of the hour, having two hosts gives us a level of flexibility and dynamism that we wouldn't have had otherwise,” he says. 

Alongside the news hosts, Loxley and Steinfort, the change coincides with a revamp of the branding around the 6pm news nationally with a new tagline of ‘Your News’ and graphic updates. 

Alex Needs.Alex Needs (pictured right), partnerships and strategy director at Nine, says the broadcaster updated its graphics package, look and feel to put the viewer at the heart of the news.

“We went for a clean and consistent feel across all platforms. It’s a look that shows up well on large-screen TV’s as it does on TikTok,” says Needs. 

The rebranding has crisp graphics, clear text and a deeper blue that works for across screens, he says, which will hopefully also provide a visual cue. 

“This means that you’ll know you’re watching 9News on the television or across other digital social platforms. We've also revived a bit of our heritage with the globe,” he says. 

“Some of our older viewers might remember National Nine News and the globe that was at the centre of that. It’s a nod to our rich history; tying the old and new together.”

As well as updating the look and feel, Channel Nine worked to consider how it would remain relevant, says Needs. 

At the core of 9News is the viewer, believes Needs - and without the viewer, Nine don't exist.

“9News has always strived to be a premium, free and centrist news for every Australian. That's how we position ourselves. When we were thinking of a new positioning statement, it had to be about the viewer and not about us,” he says. 

“Previously you’ve heard about firsts or exclusives, but in this day and age, without the viewer at the heart...we don’t exist.” 

The new tagline ‘Your News’ is where the team landed. 

This allows Nine to hold itself to a standard where it 's providing the news for the people that are watching it, says Needs. 

They are there in their communities -- and it's about what matters to them -- their streets, their cities, their politics, their sport, their weather and their entertainment, he says. 

“As news moves into a more personalised world, through social and digital, it's your news your way. It allows us to ensure that we can live up to the statement.

“It's definitely different for us. But we feel that we can live up to it and ultimately benefit our viewers."

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