The Betoota Advocate

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The Betoota Advocate
Betoota Advocate homepage.png
The Betoota Advocate front page on 8 September 2017.
TypeSatirical news website
Owner(s)Diamantina Consolidated Holdings Pty Ltd
Founder(s)Archer Hamilton
Charles Single
Piers Grove
HeadquartersSydney, Australia

The Betoota Advocate is an Australian satirical news website and digital media company[1] that publishes articles on international, national, and local news. The site puts a comedic spin on current news topics and broader social observations.[2] The site is based in inner Sydney, but takes its name from the deserted regional town of Betoota, Queensland, and purports to be "Australia's oldest newspaper".[3]



The site was started in 2014 by journalists Archer Hamilton and Charles Single,[4][5] who began working on the idea for The Betoota Advocate after meeting publisher Piers Grove through their work in the media industry. Single, formerly a writer for The Canberra Times, had lost his job in a wave of redundancies at the newspaper,[2] and Hamilton had become disillusioned working in political campaigning for NGOs following a short stint at Hill FM as a newsreader.[2][6] The pair, who attended Charles Sturt University together,[2] teamed up with Grove, an entrepreneur and executive producer of the ABC satirical news show The Roast, to create the site.[4]

The trio runs The Betoota Advocate in Alexandria, Sydney alongside their PR consultancy firm Three Rivers.[4] Hamilton and Single both work as writers for the publication, operating under the pen-names Clancy Overell and Errol Parker—alter-egos for which they remain in character in nearly all public and media appearances.[4][2][6]

The idea for the site stems from an idea Hamilton originally had to create a conservative newspaper in his hometown of Mitchell, Queensland.[7] Hamilton had grown up near Mitchell where his parents worked as graziers, before moving to Brisbane in the 1990s.[4] Hamilton’s love for the oddities of living in a country town led to the idea’s transformation into a satirical publication.[7] Single also hails from the country and worked as a jackaroo at Nockatunga Station in Queensland prior to starting university.[4]

Growth in popularity

The Betoota Advocate has grown to be Australia's most popular satirical news site, garnering a larger readership within Australia than popular U.S. satire site The Onion and Australian site The Shovel.[8] It places an emphasis on highlighting Australian youth culture and lampooning contemporary issues in a sarcastic manner, including through the use of slang and colloquialisms.[citation needed] Its growing readership base is driven largely via its presence on Facebook,[2][8] where it boasts over 750,000 followers.[9] The popularity and consequential virality of its posts is described by the pair as being a result of their ability to scan through the news and put their spin on the topics of the moment, with Single suggesting that the site seeks to "make the line between what's real and what's not even blurrier".[2]

Alongside its ordinary satirical posts, the website has also run video interviews with high-profile politicians, including former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, with Hamilton and Single taking on their alter-egos, Overell and Parker, in both.[10][11] In 2016, the pair were involved in a controversial television ad for politician Bob Katter's re-election campaign, in which they appeared in character.[12]

Business model

The Betoota Advocate is funded via advertising revenue and sponsored brand placements within articles.[6] Through their PR firm Three Rivers, the trio work with brands that wish to be mentioned in articles but do not want to be formally associated with the controversial publication.[6] In May 2017, the site moved into branded content when it released an advertisement via its Facebook page in which characters Overell and Parker endorse superannuation company Grow Super.[13] In August 2017, it launched a similar campaign for Virgin Mobile.[14]

Products making use of the Betoota brand have also been launched. In October 2016, the site published a book, The Betoota Advocate Round-Up, consisting of a compilation of articles sourced from the website.[15] In January 2017, the site teamed up with Sydney brewery Yulli's Brews to launch a branded line of beer, Betoota Bitter, to be made available at a number of pubs throughout Australia.[4][16] The site aims to expand the beer's availability into regional towns that share an affinity with the broader Betoota Advocate brand.[4] In September 2017, the beer was made available for purchase online in an effort to diversify the website's revenue streams.[17]


Several Betoota Advocate articles have been mistaken for real news items by major Australian media outlets. In November 2014, Weekend Today reported as fact a Betoota Advocate article about a Sydney city parking ranger who accidentally booked himself.[18] In January 2015, Deadspin reported that the 2016 Olympics would have 3-on-3 basketball, before realising that the source was a satire site.[19][20] In March 2015, 4BC reported as fact a Betoota Advocate article about a 78-year-old man fighting off a home invasion.[21]

The website has also attracted criticism over the way it has portrayed certain individuals and organisations. In December 2014, the RSPCA Australia criticised the site for publishing an article announcing that it was trialling having veterinarians present at dog fights in Queensland without making it clear that the story was satire, as well as including made-up quotes attributed to them in the article.[22] In October 2015, former Wallabies captain John Eales criticised The Betoota Advocate for an article attributing to him a quote that referred to Australian-born fans of the All Blacks as being "worse than ISIS".[23][24] In February 2017, Queensland MP Leanne Donaldson said that the site had "missed the mark" by making light of Bundaberg's problems with alcohol fuelled violence after it published an article suggesting that the town would be building a giant statue of a black eye.[25]

See also


  1. ^ https://mediaweek.com.au/behind-the-beetoota-advocate/
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Hunter, Andrew (30 November 2016). "Fake news makers – a look at their early work". Medium. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  3. ^ "About Us". The Betoota Advocate. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Revealed: Betoota writer a stuttering jackeroo who fell off his horses a lot". Warrego Watchman. Queensland, Australia. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  5. ^ Hayes, Alex (31 August 2017). "The Australian, The Betoota Advocate, HuffPo Australia, IAG, ABC and The Shovel join line-up for Mumbrella's Publish conference". Mumbrella. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Mark Bouris Show – Episode 33" (Podcast). 6 January 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Mitchell connection to Betoota Advocate". Western Times. 11 August 2016. p. 5.
  8. ^ a b Barton, Andrew (19 December 2016). "How The Betoota Advocate became more popular than The Onion". Mumbrella. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  9. ^ "The Betoota Advocate". Facebook. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  10. ^ The Betoota Advocate (9 June 2016). "Barnaby Joyce on being in a pub". YouTube. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  11. ^ The Betoota Advocate (23 March 2017). "The Betoota Advocate shares a few schooners with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull". YouTube. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Turnbull calls on Katter to withdraw 'bad taste' shooting ad". ABC News. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  13. ^ "News Bulletin: Betoota Advocate does branded content; Nike backs equality". AdNews. 30 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  14. ^ Dawson, Abigail (29 August 2017). "The Betoota Advocate and Virgin Mobile defend millennials and avocados with #AvoFairGo mockumentary". Mumbrella. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  15. ^ Sawyer, Scott (12 November 2016). "Acid-tongue writing: Book that throws lots of punches". NewsMail. Bundaberg, Queensland. p. 19.
  16. ^ "Brewers of fake news turn to booze". Warrego Watchman. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  17. ^ Bettles, Colin (11 September 2017). "Betoota Advocate opts for "beer-wall" instead of internet paywall". The Land. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  18. ^ Barry, Paul (17 November 2014). "The Betoota Advocate takes on Today". Media Watch. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  19. ^ Wagner, Kyle (14 January 2015). "Update: NEVERMIND, The 2016 Olympics Won't Have 3-on-3 Basketball". Deadspin. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  20. ^ O'Shea, Chris (15 January 2015). "Deadspin Fooled by Fake News Site". AdWeek. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  21. ^ Barry, Paul (30 March 2015). "Tall tales claim a new scalp". Media Watch. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  22. ^ Vonow, Brittany (24 December 2014). "RSPCA slammed for Betoota Advocate satirical article link to Queensland dog fights". Courier Mail. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  23. ^ FitzSimons, Peter (30 October 2015). "Rugby World Cup Final 2015: Do I produce the kiss of death?". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  24. ^ Dickson, Andrew (30 October 2015). "Rugby World Cup: Wallabies great John Eales slams online article with fake quotes". ABC News. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Satire story taking a joke too far, says MP". NewsMail. Bundaberg, Queensland. 4 February 2017. p. 14.