Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: NZME and you

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    golden age when Metro could afford to put writers on crime stories (and hence have them sit in court for a month).

    And they did it, even when they couldn't really. Metro spent an awfully long time being marginally profitable, but no matter what else you think of Warwick Roger he had a very clear idea of what he wanted Metro to be, and proprietors willing to hang in there until it found an audience. It's not just a matter of "cheap and nasty is as cheap as nasty does" but the simple reality is that anyone getting into publishing for a quick and easy profit is a fucking fool.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • David MacGregor,

    Arrrgh!

    I don't know who pisses me off more - you or the fuckwits who are running media companies into the ground.
    1. Media is good - we benefit from media. In the right hands.
    2. Media is dangerous. In the wrong hands it is worse than an atom bomb.
    3.

    I wrote this after meeting Jon Stephenson at your show.
    I still believe it.

    http://idealog.co.nz/venture/2010/09/two-bucks-right-here

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    In that NBR article, John Roughan looks to be in for the chop too. So the news isn't all bad.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I can't help thinking that Apple's embracing of ad-blocking on iOS is only going to make things worse.

    We ask a lot, but we're willing to trade very little in return. I balk at a paywall and apparently I don't want to see ads either, but by god they'd better not get rid of any of those journalists, how dare they!?!

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David MacGregor,

    Arrrgh!

    I don't know who pisses me off more - you or the fuckwits who are running media companies into the ground.

    Pardon?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I can't help thinking that Apple's embracing of ad-blocking on iOS is only going to make things worse.

    Separating itself from the less appealing trappings of internet advertising – tracking cookies et al – is something Apple is beginning to define itself with. I can see how it works for them to say "we want to sell you goods and services – not follow you around the internet".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Micro payments. Micro Payments. Micro payments.

    When the fuck will the big publishers start sorting out micropayments so the little guys can tag along?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I can't help thinking that Apple's embracing of ad-blocking on iOS is only going to make things worse.

    I think there is a world of discussion around this one. While I'm not running content blockers, there are genuine issues around loading times, privacy, the value of recycled content (both in terms of time, money, and frustration).

    Roll on the universal basic income.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    There is a very real human cost to these changes - I can only guess at the horrid time ahead for many impacted by these changes

    we seriously need to start thinking about how we organise ourselves and our societies

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster,

    It's not just journalists that are are hurting in the media world, funds available for drama and other local broadcasting are static at best and the fees paid to performers and writers are sinking whilst the hours worked are no less. A lot of this is down to the apparent disinterest in the broadcasters in helping create material that could be of appeal internationally. Whilst happy to import Oz/UK/USA drama there is no traffic going the other way. With the upgrade of the rebate for offshore expenditure here (after a tooth and claw battle) there is a small increase in offshore production but with the parlous state of studio infrastructure in Auckland that is not about to take off much further anytime soon. Read how the Welsh have made a difference and weep for the lack of political vision and support - http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/14/welsh-tv-industry-captures-bastard-executioner-show-of-strength?CMP=ema_546.
    It really wouldn't be so hard to harness all the individual creative giants here to make impressive film, tv and webseries if the industry was given the support that, say, farming gets. The world is crying out for more and more content - and that goes for proper news reporting and analysis too, imho.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I can and do already block ads as much as possible, and one reason I avoid apple is because they insist on ads everywhere. This latest move only allows people to block browser ads AFAIK, not all ads and especially not Apple-ecosystem ads. It's less of a "remove the ads" and more "remove Google/DoubleClick ads"... who are their competition. Gee, what a surprise that they should want to block those.

    We ask a lot, but we're willing to trade very little in return. I balk at a paywall and apparently I don't want to see ads either, but by god they'd better not get rid of any of those journalists, how dare they!

    I disagree. I donate to places like PA every year, and I donated to TheConversation even though they are still trying to decide whether they want comment threads and how those might work if they had them (moderation is extremely erratic), and their article range from excellent to WTF.

    I really hope the adblocking shakeout leads to a workable solution. I'm willing to be tracked by the people who supply the content so I can pay them, but I object vigorously to having my computer taken over by people who exist purely to annoy me (apparently advertising is the art of being just annoying enough to be noticed without being so annoying that too many people opt out).

    I would happily pay a fee to the operator of my feed aggregator that goes to the feed sources. I already pay for the aggregator. If it was like the various music systems... no, wait, it should be completely unlike those and based on a compulsory license so that I don't have to subscribe to 10 different services. But yeah, $10/mo for my news habit would be fine.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1222 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    FWIW there is active discussion around the geeky traps of how to replace online ads with a workable system, but it's a non-trival challenge. The human factors and repeated failures of micropayments make it difficult, but the music and tv subscription services do point to ways forward. In general, "pay for what you use" breaks because people don't like knowing that everything they do has a cost (and the cost is as much the mental effort of wondering it it's really worth paying for this). So we end up with subscriptions... but the media landscape is so fragmented that it makes music seem simple. Google/Apple News doesn't work because the money goes to Goople rather than the writers. And for people like me that don't read mainstream media it's not relevant because I can't access PA through it (or any other site I read).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1222 posts Report Reply

  • sandra,

    I left 'proper' journalism earlier this year, feeling after some 20-odd years in the one place that it was time for a change but also because I could feel the disillusion growing.

    The couple of years we all took a wage freeze because the company asked us, because it would help the company survive were not repaid with loyalty in any way, shape or form - the next three pay rises were all below the cost of living, there were fewer people to do the same or more work, experience and institutional knowledge were not valued.

    Everyone screams 'digital' and 'synergy' but no one knows how to make digital pay and in the meantime old-fashioned journalism where there were reporters and subs, where stories were crafted without reporting to Facebook comments, is disappearing.

    [cries salt tears into farewell gift coffee mug]

    tauranga • Since Dec 2011 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Stansta,

    I work with a large number of NZ's digital publishers and am genuinely concerned about the commercial viability of many of them.
    The current ad funded model is broken as it relies on advertisers paying a premium for an audience they can find cheaply elsewhere (Facebook, Google.....)
    As the ad dollars decline, so too do the resources the publisher has at its disposal (journalists, designers, ......) This is a death spiral.
    As a number of commenters have alluded to, the industry needs to be reimagined if we are to have quality local content in the (not to distant) future.

    Since Sep 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m going to (finally) sign us up as Press Council members

    What are the benefits? (genuine question)

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, I love all these websites that dutifully explain that they use cookies. That's fine. Do they explain when they're using cross-site tracking cookies, or reading those placed by others? Not so much.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    I can and do already block ads as much as possible, and one reason I avoid apple is because they insist on ads everywhere.

    Genuine question: what ads are these?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Moz,

    In general, “pay for what you use” breaks because people don’t like knowing that everything they do has a cost

    Not to mention things like link prefetching complicating things.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    FWIW there is active discussion around the geeky traps of how to replace online ads with a workable system, but it's a non-trival challenge. The human factors and repeated failures of micropayments make it difficult, but the music and tv subscription services do point to ways forward. In general, "pay for what you use" breaks because people don't like knowing that everything they do has a cost (and the cost is as much the mental effort of wondering it it's really worth paying for this).

    Yeah, if micropayments mean "paying for what you use", page by page, they're not really a good solution. Paying a fixed sum and having it divided up between publishers is better.

    Our house responds to occasional Wikipedia fundraising drives and we became a Guardian member for a few quid (got a shopping bag to show off at Farro). I don't mind paying for something everyone can use for free.

    But I also don't think advertising is terrible. Our glorious spell – about a decade ago – when Scoop was selling for us and the agencies were buying was really good. I was able to invest in the site and treat the contributors to drinks and dinners. I blogged most days.

    But we really don't fit into the programatic advertising model that is now ubiquitous. What people aren't seeing is the automated system underlying web ads that is running constant micro-auctions to place campaigns with advertisers. It's the reason you see shitty, low-value ads on high-quality websites. It's actually also not doing the advertising industry any good – it's kind of the enemy of creativity.

    I initially thought we'd be able to sell more retail-level advertising, but we've been mediated out in a different way there. Restaurants and frock shops have direct relationships with their customers via Facebook and email databases now. If they want to advertise, Facebook ads deliver an amazing bang-for-buck. No one will remember your ad tomorrow, of course.

    We actually have access to a really good ad-serving infrastructure. We sell a few ads, very cheaply, to music and the arts, but that's about it for the moment. What has worked in the past is working with comms companies and getting brands alongside specific things we do – especially events – but there are diminishing returns on effort there too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stansta,

    I work with a large number of NZ's digital publishers and am genuinely concerned about the commercial viability of many of them.
    The current ad funded model is broken as it relies on advertisers paying a premium for an audience they can find cheaply elsewhere (Facebook, Google.....)

    Exactly. It's particularly difficult for independent publishers, because we can't offer the necessary scale. I'm guessing it's hurting magazines esecially, which has long been the sector with the most independents and the greatest diversity of ownership.

    As the ad dollars decline, so too do the resources the publisher has at its disposal (journalists, designers, ......) This is a death spiral.
    As a number of commenters have alluded to, the industry needs to be reimagined if we are to have quality local content in the (not to distant) future.

    If you think of anything, let me know :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here's some irony.

    NZME's random-cost-cutter-in-chief, head of publishing Phil Eustace, was sacked today too.

    It always seems to happen after these guys have done their damage ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    I wouldnt mind paying if I wasnt struggling every week to live on what I earn.
    And its going to get worse WTF!
    Talk about shoot ourselves in the collective foot.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1888 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    Fantastic report Russell - and thankyou for referencing that piece which I agonised a lot about publishing and which caused considerable consternation at both the major newspaper publishers.

    The fact is the NZ news industry is facing an existential crisis. Decisions are being made which cannot be undone which are dismantling much of what remains of the "Fourth Estate" that part of the media which holds the powerful to account on behalf of the citizenry.

    There is an urgent need for political and institutional consideration to be given to the question:

    What effect will the loss of an effective news industry in NZ have on business, democracy, the rule of law and Government accountability. Once gone it will be much harder to bring it back to life.

    And that is why at Scoop.co.nz we have launched takebackthenews.nz which Russell has generously agreed to advertise on this site.

    Al

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Rivers,

    In Wellington there is a mini-conference on 9&10 October - a Friday evening and Saturday at St Andrews on the Terrace which will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues. Amongst those speaking are:

    - Alastair Thompson from Scoop,
    - Alex Clark whose News Renewed research looked at the market for paywall journalism and concluded that while few readers would pay for a single 'paper' behind a paywall the interest in a bundle of media - say NZHerald + NYT - is significantly greater.
    - Peter Thompson, a Victoria academic whose recent research has looked a models for funding public interest broadcasting.
    - Oliver Lineham from OIA website FYI.org.nz
    and more.

    Public Good website has the information.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to ,

    Do more with less is the new normal.

    This mantra is not specific to this particular Government, though it is a National theme. The Bolger/Shipley fandango during the 90's destruction of the public sector also used it on a daily basis.

    And Brian Rudman was told his job was being disestablished because “there is no longer any requirement for Auckland commentary”.

    WTActualF?? Like Rudman only commented on Auckland issues?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

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