How afraid should NZME be?


New Zealand Herald publisher NZME should be afraid. It remains to be seen whether it should it be very afraid.

The abrupt exit by company chairman Peter Cullinane last week was the first move against the company by Australian fund manager shareholders but it will not be their last.

Cullinane resigned only hours before a shareholders’ meeting at which he was up for re-election and later conceded that “it recently became apparent that I didn’t have the support of significant Australian fund managers.”

He said the obvious reason was the depressed share price. Continue reading “How afraid should NZME be?”

That existential crisis again

A Zoom presentation by Dr Gavin Ellis delivered to the Ponsonby U3A on 12 June 2020

The bad news is that journalism has taken a body blow during the Covid-19 crisis. And, like so many in my age group, the damage has been caused not so much because it tested positive to Covid-19 but because it has underlying health issues.

Since the announcement that the country would move into lockdown, close to 600 people employed in the news media have lost their jobs: 237 when Bauer closed down its entire New Zealand magazine operation, 200 from NZME including the closedown of Radio Sport, and 130 from the beleaguered MediaWorks (but not from  TV3, because MediaWorks was trying to flog it off). AGM closed three architectural magazines. There will be others that passed without notice.

Blame for the layoffs and shutdowns was laid at the feet – probably more appropriately the spike protein – of Covid-19. And it undoubtedly played a part. Media company cashflow during the lockdown declined by up to 70 per cent. But it was by no means the complete story.  Continue reading “That existential crisis again”

Perils of (literally) shooting the messenger


There is something alarmingly wrong in a democracy when police physically attack journalists and its politicians normalise verbal abuse of the media. But, if we are not worried because it’s happening half a world away, we should be.

We need to worry because there is a far-reaching corrosive effect in what is happening in the United States and shown daily on the news feeds and social media accessed by many in this country.

The agreement that allows newsgatherers to bear witness on the public’s behalf is a fragile thing with strictly limited legal force. It is an understanding between media and the public but the average person on New Zealand streets has little comprehension of either its purpose or importance. Continue reading “Perils of (literally) shooting the messenger”

Coronaviral home truths

I now know why they are called ‘home truths’. They reveal themselves while you are banged up in your house waiting for the plague to go away.

I have learned a few home truths about the media since going into voluntary isolation even before the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown order was issued. Age was the reason I turned my back on human contact weeks before the café doors slammed shut but it also means I’ve seen a few media institutions come and go over the years.

Journalists have learned to go with the times – yes, mainly go. They have been constantly told they need to adapt with technology, with competition, with changing markets. They have learned to roll with punches and that, for many, has meant accepting some things that leave a bloody taste in the mouth.

So, from the safety of my bubble (or, more accurately, the serenity of my study where the only danger lies in refusing Rufus his cat treats), I have had time to reflect on the past, to gather a few home truths that just might be useful lessons for the future. Continue reading “Coronaviral home truths”