The West Australian (often simply called The West) is the only locally-edited daily newspaper published in Perth, Western Australia, and is owned by ASX-listed West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd (ASX: WAN). The West is published in tabloid format, as is the state's other major newspaper, The Sunday Times, a News Limited publication. It is the second-oldest continuously-produced newspaper in Australia, having been published since 1833. The West has strong conservative leanings, and has consistently supported the Coalition.
Based on surveys to June 2010, the proprietors claimed a weekday circulation of 203,304 and a Saturday-edition circulation of 333,768. The weekday average is significantly boosted by an enlarged classified-advertising section for motor vehicles each Wednesday.
In October 2010, the paper ended its long-term policy of not directly competing for Sunday readership and advertising by re-branding its former Saturday editions as "a weekend read" under the masthead The Weekend West. In consequence, The West Australian was reduced to weekdays-only circulation.
A digital archive subscription enables past editions from July 2004 to be accessed for $220 per month or $2,200 p.a.
The newspaper contains international, national and local news. Opinion columnists include Zoltan Kovacs, Paul Murray and a variety of writers syndicated from Fairfax Media including Gerard Henderson, Danny Katz and Brian Toohey .
The paper publishes a supplement titled WestWeekend Magazine which is included as an insert in The Weekend West. The publisher also operates a "breaking news" website (thewest.com.au). In April 2008, the website was expanded to include a video news service called West TV, to compete with similar services from Fairfax Media and News Limited.
The West Australian traces its origins to The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, the first edition of which appeared on 5 January 1833. Owned and edited by Perth postmaster Charles Macfaull, it was originally a four page weekly. It was, at first, published on Saturdays, but changed to Fridays in 1864. Eventually renamed The Perth Gazette and was published by Arthur Shenton, until 26 June 1874, when it was bought by a syndicate who renamed it The Western Australian Times and increased production to two editions a week. On 18 November 1879, it was relaunched as The West Australian. In October 1883, production was increased to three editions per week; two years later it became a daily publication. (The proprietors of the West Australian at that time also inaugurated the Western Mail, in 1885.) Initially, delivery of the paper beyond settled areas was problematic, but the growth and development of the rural railway system in the early 1900s facilitated wider circulation.
Newspaper House, the former office and publishing plant of The West on St Georges Terrace, across the road from the Palace Hotel, was a prominent landmark in the life of the city and state for over 50 years. It was vacated in the mid-1980s as part of the ill-fated "Westralia Square" redevelopment. The newspaper's editorial staff was temporarily relocated in rented office space nearby in St George's Terrace. Recognised as part of an important heritage precinct, Newspaper House was scheduled for preservation and refurbishment. In 1988, larger and more modern accommodation for the paper's printing presses was commissioned in Osborne Park. Ten years later, the editorial operations also moved to the Osborne Park complex.
The 'West Australian was owned by the publicly-listed company West Australian Newspapers Ltd from the 1920s. In 1969, the Melbourne based The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd bought WAN and published the paper until 1987 when it was sold to Robert Holmes à Court's Bell Group in 1987 when the remainder of H&WT was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The following year Alan Bond, through Bond Corporation, gained control of Bell Group and hence the paper. This ownership structure only survived for a few years until the collapse of Bond Corporation. A newly formed company, West Australian Newspapers Holdings, then purchased the paper from the receivers before being floated in an oversubscribed $185 million public offering.  Chairman Trevor Eastwood announced in the annual report that the company was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX: WAN) on 9 January 1992. A management fee of $217,000 and underwriting/brokers handling fee of $1,981,136 were paid to companies associated with former short-term directors John Poynton and J. H. Nickson.
In addition to The West, West Australian Newspapers Holdings Limited owns a number of other media outlets.
In March 2008, major shareholder Seven Network Limited initiated an extraordinary general meeting to consider removal of all non-executive directors. Seven Network's chairman Kerry Stokes criticised the WAN board's "lack of leadership". A new website ("Refresh The West") was simultaneously launched, directly targeting the board of West Australian Newspaper Holdings (WAN). At a business breakfast in April, Stokes held up a copy of The Sunday Times and said it was a superior newspaper that The West should try to emulate.
As a result of subsequent negotiations, a joint statement was issued on 16 September 2008 saying the WAN board had been increased from five to seven members, the two new seats being taken up by Kerry Stokes and fellow Seven director Peter Gammell. On 3 December 2008, Stokes achieved total victory when WAN's chief executive, chairman and two independent directors quit en masse. Stokes became chairman and, within a fortnight, The West Australians controversial editor Paul Armstrong was sacked. He was eventually replaced by former Sunday Times editor Brett McCarthy on 15 March 2009. Seven's managing director Chris Wharton filled the CEO position and four additional directors were appointed. The group's editor-in-chief is Bob Cronin whose authoritarian style caused resentful employees to nickname him "Cronin the Barbarian" in the 1980s.
The paper was labelled in February 2005 by former prime minister Bob Hawke as "a disgrace to reasonable objective journalism". Academic Peter van Onselen substantiated this attack, identifying 10 pro-Opposition front page headlines in the leadup to the 2005 state election, but no pro-Government headlines.
In May 2007, then attorney-general and health minister Jim McGinty described the newspaper as "the nation's most inaccurate and dishonest newspaper". He went on to attack the editor, Paul Armstrong, saying that "the board of West Australian Newspapers needs to sack the editor. It is personally driven by a particular individual". Armstrong responded by saying he "could not give a fat rat's arse" about Mr McGinty's comments and was then virulently attacked by premier Alan Carpenter
On 15 February 2008, The West reported that McGinty's staff had banned its reporters from attending his press conferences. Unsurprisingly, The West continued to denigrate Carpenter's government until its defeat at the 2008 election in September.