A friend pointed out that a media monopoly means the end of competitive journalism, there will no longer be scoops if there's no one to scoop
Fairfax's CEO has already signalled shutdowns and divestments in response to the decision, but I think it could be positively healthy if the newspaper business deconsolidated.
One of the reasons local papers struggle at the moment is the way the two big chains funnel money out of them with steep internal chargebacks for services. They're being used as cash cows and some of them would literally be better off on their own.
The Marlborough Express has been an excellent provincial paper owned by Fairfax.
Experimentally it has changed from May 1 to publishing much local news only on Mon Wed Fri. For 2 weeks we get the Press on Tuesday and Thursday. And then...?
It is true that by the time news reaches print we have mostly already read it on line somewhere but handy to cut out an important bit on paper and easily refer back to a recent item.
Will we miss the Express? Yes but...
Most of the stories on this merger don't really stress that both parent companies of FairfaxNZ/Stuff and NZME have Australian parent companies, it's not as if we are really supporting local media enterprises, and recent history shows that the Australians don't care for NZ on many levels.
We need to talk about Facebook. And Google. It seems to be finally dawning on politicians that NZ giving these two behemoths the lion’s share of digital advertising revenue is a disaster. Not only do they not create content; they don’t pay tax here. I don’t think there’s a solution that doesn’t involve either taxing them fairly, and putting the money into public good journalism, or somehow breaking up their monopolies.
ETA - that involves active government intervention - not something we've seen a lot of ... but surely the commerce commission should be at least as concerned about these monopolies?
The only gripe I would have with RNZ is that while the likes of The Panel do at least feature opinions stretching the length and breadth of New Zealand
It that what The Panel is meant to be for? I thought it was just a space for Jim Mora's friends to express opinions on topics they often know nothing about.
Granted they've made some changes, like the One Quick Question bit, where someone who can actually explain something is often called in.
call out the aggregators...
Because there's something in the air!
We need to talk about Facebook. And Google
The Strangler Figs of the communication ecosystem.
Will the parasite kill the host?
Meanwhile, on the Spinoff...
I think the perceived view from Auckland and its champions in the media (for which read most of the broadcast and online media) is that Auckland is terribly important and the rest of the country is jolly lucky to have it, so we should be endlessly fascinated about their house prices and traffic jams and crime stories and local government and public transport and sports stadiums. We should be happily handing over colossal quantities of tax revenue to improve life for all who live there. Because really, isn't that better for everyone?
Sarc aside, local print media, National radio and a diminishing number of truly local radio stations are basically all you have left outside Auckland. I suspect a lot of regions would be far better served if they had truly independent media like the ODT which did not exist primarily as a funnel to transfer money to shiny towers with views of the Waitemata harbour.
The media coverage beyond the Bombays is dire, true. However Simon Wilson's central case is sound:
Auckland needs a sustained, focused, concerted plan. Because let’s call it straight: this city is on the edge of crisis.
We all know this. In transport, housing, health, education, crime, the drains when it rains – wherever you look – supply of services has been outstripped by demand, costs have risen beyond the reach of ordinary citizens and existing systems are failing to cope with their workloads. It’s as true for stormwater as it is for school counselling; congestion on the roads mirrors congestion in the health services dealing with diabetes.
A city in crisis is a city that can’t deliver to its potential – for its own citizens or for the country.
When he says champions, he's not talking media but politicians who need to recognise the different scale of both problems and opportunities in NZ's only large city. That does not mean ignoring the regions but it also does not mean letting a hick from Nelson dictate NZ's urban planning rules.
I agree with others that stronger regional media is perversely likely ro result from the hyper-commercial consolidation in urban markets.
I have such a hard time caring about any of this. Have a plan, have 20, the more the merrier. Knock yourself out. But the idea that a borderline large city, which is what Auckland is becoming, will ever really fix its sewers or transport or anything else is ludicrous. Has Simon Wilson ever lived anywhere else? Because every city has these problems and many others. They are never really fixed. Perfection never arrives, only a series of botched compromises and dealing with those is part of the charm of living in a city.
I think Zurich is fairly well sorted.
The rest of New Zealand doesn’t want to read about Auckland with a side-serving of Wellington. That’s why we don’t buy the papers, watch the Auckland-centric television news and self-regarding talk shows.
It’s not relevant to our lives. How much more wounding can get for a real journalist, one who is interested in other people’s lives rather their own opinions?
During the early earthquake years in Christchurch, The Press, led by Andrew Holden, did a fine job of informing, comforting and knitting together the community in the best tradition of journalism: relevant, written by people who understood and cared for the city. With that grew a renewed community loyalty to the paper.
Fairfax has squandered that loyalty with its incessant demands for more. It is no coincidence that the New Zealand company is led by one of the greyest accountants ever to cross the door of a publisher: no understanding of what it takes to make successful journalism, no aroha; indeed no experience of being a working journalist but much experience of the managerialism and cheese-paring it takes to export the still-large-but-not-as -large-as-we-want profits back to the brutish Australian masters. He does his job well and doesn’t need to understand that journalism is about humanity. For him it is about money.
The rampant greed of the media megacorps doesn’t work any more, for them because there is never enough profit, for consumers because we are treated with blatant disrespect, for journalists who live in the shadow of redundancy near every day they go to work.
So maybe we do have to start again: small, local operations that make enough to break even, that share their copy with other small outfits, even a formal sharing arrangement to broaden the scope of the news. (Hey, we used to have one of those until some bastard sold it.)
None of that is undoable in an age where we don’t even have to print a physical paper. The cost of publishing online is minimal, but to make it work advertisers need to support it, or readers need to pay, or both.
It will take a willingness to be bold in a way that a merger of huge companies – controlled by old men who, oddly, look like Clarke and Dawe – could never be. Community trusts owning media platforms are the way forward.
So maybe we do have to start again: small, local operations that make enough to break even, that share their copy with other small outfits,
I remember back in the days of Earwig, Cock, Itch and Ferret (that's not a law firm, but 4 different NZ Counter Culture mags! Well 5 counting Counter Culture) there was the UPS (Underground Press Syndicate) and other casual arrangements, that much like some Fanzines today, allowed hard copy and content swapping - all by mail mind you...
Another outlet that seems to be following the regional model is the ODT. They appear to have reporters in at least half a dozen towns in their region filing stories daily. I found it a big contrast to the Herald when I'm reading it and they devote a page to Alexandra, Balclutha, etc.
I'm not sure how well it is working (on a news or financial) level. Most of the complaints I hear about the ODT are regarding their coverage of Dunedin matters
I’m not sure how well it is working (on a news or financial) level.
Absolutely fine. Allied Press also have a solid presence in Christchurch via Star Media, the owner of The Star and CTV and taking in the Mainland community newspapers and various other operations.
Which often has stories of major local import that The Press misses and never seems to follow up on after they have been publicised in The Star, whereas Fairfax seems happy to report on stories reported on in The NZ Herald - seems odd to me.
You know the drill Ian: if it’s on TV news or in the Herald website it’s front-page in the Press. Nothing is important unless a power-greater-than-Christchurch deems it so.
This city hums with wonderful and/or nationally-significant stories. I find them every day without even looking, and I suspect the Press journos do too, but their readership-deaf Fairfax news controllers in Wellington turn them down as they wouldn’t have a clue and don’t care what this city’s readers want to read.
This city hums with wonderful and/or nationally-significant stories.
2nd-largest city and all that
Fairfax news controllers in Wellington turn them down
For some perspective...
Jesus H Christ.
Domain valued at $2.2 billion.
The SMH, The Age, The AFR valued at $17.6 million.
http://www.afr.com/street-talk/private-equity-giant-tpg-seeks-new-deal-with-fairfax-media-20170505-gvzdxv via @adharves
With around 1.4 million residents a fair bit of stuff, some of it newsworthy, happens there. But New Zealand’s population is nearing 4.5 million; less than one third of New Zealand lives in Auckland.
Being "that guy", this is quite starkly inaccurate.
Population of NZ is projected to break 4.8m by the end of the month, population of Auckland is between 1.6m (first half of 2016) and 1.7m (projected for first-half 2018). Which means that Auckland is very definitely more than 1/3 the population, and that share is growing.
Which isn't to say that it's at all healthy for the media to obsess about Auckland to the exclusion of all else, but when the biggest city has a population that's about 20% greater than the combined population of the rest of the top-10 (with that combined total not far north of a million, and three of those cities being part of the Wellington region) it's really easy to justify on an accounting basis and a placement-of-resources basis. Especially when the other centre of focus is the political hub of a country with a pretty concentrated governance structure.
Two-thirds-ish of the population might be a lot to ignore in aggregate, but when they're spread from Bombay to Bluff and Wellsford to Cape Reinga that's a lot of very small fragments, none of whom care about any of the others' local concerns in the world according to Jennings.
If you want to compare to the UK, take a look at all their cities with populations > 100k.
NZ has seven, one of which is Auckland, and if you bundle up Lower Hutt into "Wellington" it decreases to six. Bundling Lower Hutt, Porirua and Upper Hutt into "Wellington" gives you 10 urban areas big enough to be classified as "cities" by Stats NZ, four of which have populations firmly below 100k.
press, repress, depress...
Sad to hear that Rod Oram has had to leave his diminishing platform in the Sunday Star Times - Farfax really have lost the plot.
compare and contrast to the Aussie Fairfax management getting pay rises while firing editorial staff (nice work if you can get it!);