[Don’t] read all about it!

mastheads
The latest readership survey shows New Zealand newspapers are very good at reporting other people’s bad news but not their own.

Last September the New Zealand Herald bragged that its Nielsen readership statistics had “soared to record levels” and this year ran an extensive story about NZME titles increasing readership in the February Nielsen survey, which it claimed was “highlighting Kiwis’ love affair with print”.

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

Last week Nielsen released its latest survey. It received no coverage in the Herald or in the Waikato Times or in the Dominion Post or in The Press or in the Otago Daily Times. Continue reading “[Don’t] read all about it!”

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”

Elusive ‘second package’ of media assistance

Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivered a budget with big numbers this afternoon but, for Covid-affected media organisations seeking assistance, it was decidedly small on detail about what would be spend to help them and where.

Last month, when Communications Minister Kris Faafoi announced a $50 million media assistance package overwhelmingly aimed at broadcasters, the prospect of a second package in the budget was held out to the industry.

“I want to be very clear,” he said, “that this first phase of support alone will not be sufficient to see the sector through a prolonged period of restrictions and reduced advertising.  A second package of support is being developed and will be submitted for the COVID-19 budget discussions in May.”

It may, indeed, have been submitted but there was no indication today what that ‘second package of support’ might be. This was all the finance minister said in his Budget speech on the topic: “Media industry assistance is being developed over coming months”. And, as I write this, I am still waiting for any amplification from Kris Faafoi. Continue reading “Elusive ‘second package’ of media assistance”

Coronaviral home truths

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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”