Government media strategies: A dating game that may not end well

I am worried.

I am worried that New Zealand’s media ecosystem is about to be adversely affected by Government initiatives that should be closely coordinated but which are each taking their own course.

There may be a grand strategy but, if that is so, the New Zealand public have not seen it.

Instead, we are slowly becoming aware of strands of policy that have different focal points, different timeframes, and different potential impacts. There are cross-currents that mean each of these policies will have consequences for media outside the primary focus.

The situation is made worse by the fact that much of the policy work has dealt with high level concepts that leave the detail until later.

These combined factors are not necessarily a recipe for disaster, but they are certainly from the Unintended Consequences Cookbook. Continue reading “Government media strategies: A dating game that may not end well”

The Queen was always good copy

 

To mark the death of Queen Elizabeth, this week’s commentary is handed over to one of New Zealand’s most knowledgeable Royal watchers, former New Zealand Woman’s Weekly editor, Jenny Lynch.

She was always good copy, specially for women’s magazines.

During my time at the NZ Woman’s Weekly ( 1976-1994) I often wondered what we would have done without the Queen and her troublesome family

Outsiders often sneered at the magazine’s so-called love affair with the royals.

But long-time editor Jean Wishart knew a thing or two. So did I when I took over the editor’s chair in 1987.

A good royal story guaranteed good sales.

And when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited New Zealand we could count on very good sales. Continue reading “The Queen was always good copy”

It’s time for Stuff to add its bricks to the paywall

It is time for Stuff to bite the bullet and introduce a proper paywall for some of its online content.

It is now the odd one out among the New Zealand newspaper companies that have seen their paid circulation and advertising revenue decimated by the Internet.

NZME’s premium service for the New Zealand Herald is three years old and Allied Press, publisher of the Otago Daily Times, has announced it will charge for premium content by the end of the month.

The Herald’s paywall has been a success story. NZME now has 100,000 digital only subscribers paying between $149 and $199 a year. While its earnings are still no match for the revenue derived from print subscriptions, they are going up while newspaper sales go down.

NZME’s first half results this year showed digital subscription revenue of almost $8 million, an increase of 54 per cent on the same period last year. The numbers were enhanced, of course, by the acquisition of BusinessDesk last November, which added 8000 subscribers. Nonetheless, both volume and revenue has been rising steadily since 2019.

It was understandable that Stuff might take a wait-and-see approach when NZME announced parts of the Herald were going behind a paywall but any uncertainty over the wisdom of such a move should now have evaporated. Continue reading “It’s time for Stuff to add its bricks to the paywall”

Latter-day anarchists throw digital bombs at journalists

Every journalist that ‘outs’ a conspiracy theorist or extremist paints a target on their own back. 

The anti-truth brigade thrives in dark places and shining a light on it and its associates is doing a public service. Yet it comes at a cost.

The tone of abuse that it generates is even darker than the places from which it emanates. Journalists – particularly female journalists – are being subjected to taunts and threats on an unprecedented scale and in forms that are deeply disturbing.

Paula Penfold of the Stuff Circuit team that produced the documentary Fire and Fury, which unmasked many of those behind the February-March protest in Parliament grounds, revealed in the Sunday Star Times last weekend that since its appearance she has been targeted with death threats, abuse “and, unsurprisingly, conspiracy theories”. She told the newspaper: “I’ve had lots before but never as many or as ugly or as threatening than after this documentary.”

Penfold’s situation was outlined in an article about the abuse three female Stuff journalists had endured for doing their jobs. Alongside Penfold were Kirsty Johnston, who revealed MP Sam Uffindell’s record at King’s College, and Andrea Vance, currently revealing the anti- brigade’s associations with local body candidates. Continue reading “Latter-day anarchists throw digital bombs at journalists”