Hunkering Down For The Perfect Storm 2017: The Big Shakedown

It’s hardly news that newspapers have been going through heavy weather. But it is clear 2017 will be make or break time for New Zealand newspapers. All over the world papers are closing and downsizing. In general, NZ papers have remained profitable, though this week Fairfax New Zealand announced a $75 million loss after writing down the value of its papers by $100 million. But there are special problems here make our journalism more vulnerable. Partly it is because we have uniquely had no specific media and as a result we have already reached the point where our media is already ruled by duopolies. The next step is monopolies and the Commerce Commission regulating competition, seems wary of taking that step.

The romantic images a newspaper reporter - circa1946
The romantic images a newspaper reporter – circa 1946

Perhaps more than other countries New Zealand newspapers  have been doing the hard work building stories from the start – the heavy lifting some call it. Establishing the detail and diversity of news for other media that follow up on them.  A diminished resources for newspapers has already led to the end of the rounds system – where reporters brvsmr experts in issues or or institions, That has diminished newspaper reporter and had a downstream effect with poorer TV and radio bulletins. Further cuts are inevitable for newspapers and that will flow on to other media. The immediate future will be decided on March 15 when the Commerce Commission decides whether to change its mind and approve the merger of NZME. and Fairfax. The strong criticism in the ComCom draft report issued in November means that few expect merger approval. Commerce Commission chair Mark Berry appeared to go out of his way to discourage expectations for a turnaround, saying the influence of the combined countries as second only to Mainland China,. If it does occur there will likely be a swift change and layoffs .The two firms will stop sending two or more people to cover one news story. Some predict over 25 per cent of 3000 combined staff will go, including dozens of journalists. Even if there is no merger there will be cuts to staff longer term . Newspaper companies will have to assess how they can continue to make money in a market where their business model (they freely admit) no longer works.

 

 

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Who Goes There? – Holt Opinion

Caption: Hayley and the Greens

The United States will soon be run by reality TV star Donald Trump. And in little old New Zealand, we’ve seen wannabe politicians who happen to have been on the telly.

The latest “star” political wannabe is Hayley Holt, a talented snowboarder and a presenter of two niche TV shows “The Crowd Goes Wild” and “Back Benches. Name recognition matters for a party like the Greens and you wonder if there are any more media people waiting in the wings.

But Holt does not have the celebrity power of Tamati Coffey who fronted the weather forecasts for many years and who will be standing for Labour in the Waiariki seat in 2017.

Holt is said to be an environmentalist and have a degree in politics and that means a lot for some Green voters.

She may well be be a brilliant advocate for the Party. Holt had indicated that she was interested in winning the candidacy for the Helensville electorate. Maybe that will be less attractive now that John Key is no longer standing and there would be fewer promotional opportunities.

The Greens insist they will follow their normal practices is selecting her place on the List, . But announcements of star candidates like Holt raise the question whether high profile people have a place ahead non- celebrity candidates,

 

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Tamati Coffey has genuine star appear and is standing for Labour in Wairariki

Holt told the NZ Herald she is not yet sure how many votes her star power could be worth.”I don’t want politics to be boring. It looks boring at the moment and we’ve got some really fresh, exciting faces with the Greens coming through …” she said.

Another recent recruit looking for a place on the Greens list is high profile politician Chloe Swarbrick who had worked with alternative radio station Bfm.

Chloe Swarbrick
Chloe Swarbrick

She has been backed by media on the Left in Auckland and would likely draw votes in the city. Indeed when she recently announced her intentions to stand for Parliament it seemed like the Greens were joining Swarbrick, not vice – versa.

 

 

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

Early Outing For Jennings-Murphy Newsroom

Caption.Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings aim for their new wesbsite called Newsroom to be up and running in mid-February.

Plans for an ambitious news and current affairs website were forced out into the open yesterday, after Fairfax and NZME used them to show the Commerce Commission there was competition coming in the news market. Former high-profile news bosses for MediaWorks and the New Zealand Herald – Mark Jennings and Tim Murphy – were caught short when marketing material their new website, Newsroom, unexpectedly went public. According to Jennings, Fairfax and NZME got wind of plans and delivered them to the Commerce Commission. Jennings said that the project was going well – but negotiations had not been completed and were continuing,  Journalists whose names are attached to the marketing proposal include Bernard Hickey and his Hivenews.co,nz website, business writer Rod Oram, sports writer Steve Deane, and Eloise Gibson.

Tim Murphy said the new venture would start as a subscription service in mid-February with the free website set to start in March. According to promotional material for the newsroom site (see below). Negotiations are under way for backing from Allied Press, the owner of the Otago Daily Times. Selwyn and Craig Pellett are involved. Newsroom will be funded by subscriptions, sponsorship and advertising. Murphy said subscriptions were hoped to be equal to sponsorship and advertising revenue by Year 3. The marketing document is attacjed below.

marketing-literature-in-relation-to-jennings-murphys-new-news-website-to-be-called-newsroom-co-nz-november-2016

 

 

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

Next Drama Needs to Be Good Dirty, Filthy TV

The recent ratings failure of the TVNZ 1 series “Dirty Laundry” leaves TVNZ and New Zealand On Air with a dilemma over the future of New Zealand drama. TVNZ needs a hit. Zagzigger.com pointed out on October 14 that the show was in trouble (Dirty Laundry On Line), and it never really found an audience. The TVNZ2 predecessor, “Filthy Rich” also did not rate very well, and had mixed reviews. But Filthy Rich viewership held up on TVNZ On Demand. NZ On Air says it had a loyal audience. As a result, it agreed to fund a second series.

Filthy Rich has been given funding for a second series.
Filthy Rich has been given funding for a second series.

I saw some of the same faults in Dirty Laundry that were apparent in Filthy Rich. They seemed like same old, same old. It would be easy to get despondent There is nothing sillier than making the same mistake over and over again. But unlike some media folk I’m not keen on walking away from TV drama altogether, Making drama is hard work. And many in the TV world believe that the problem is that TVNZ commissioners are caught up in an eighties time warp. The bulk of the money for kiwi dramas comes from taxpayers, but the networks are nervous about trying things that are new.Maybe so. But f they continue to play it too safe -and it creates a third underwhelming series in a row – people may start giving up.

Grubby Feet
Grubby Feet

I hear  TVNZ has a promising new drama in development that is expected to be quite different to Filthy Rich and Dirty Laundry. Fingers crossed it is not  called Grubby Feet.

 

 

 

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

Mark Jennings Warning On The Future Of News Will The Internet Kill Journalism?

 

Caption: Fake News in Facebook promoted the election of Donald Trump.

Mark Jennings offers practical and realistic analysis on the parlous state of New Zealand News Media. This is the slightly abridged text of Jennings’ giving the John O’Shea memorial address to the SPADA conference this week.

I’d like to look at two major themes that have impacted the media this year. One is international and one is domestic.The first is the now widely held view that the world’s media is so out of touch that it completely misread Brexit and Donald Trump’s rise to power and has become irrelevant to a large part of the population.

Mark Jennngs warns about the power of Facebook
Mark Jennngs warns about the power of Facebook

The second one is, what’s led to the two biggest media organisations in this country feeling they have to merge to if they are to keep producing the sort of journalism that matters. In my view, there are many factors that are common to both these topics. It wasn’t that long ago that technology and the internet looked like they were going to be mainstream media’s greatest allies, in what I think is its key role, providing timely information and context to a wide audience.

The combination of technology and the internet promised so much. Looking back, I think it was a sweet spot in media history, a great time to be a journalist and I think the public was well served too. Profitability and competition spawned a whole range of new products and product innovation. I’d like to fast forward to  the rise of Google and Facebook

Could Mark Zuckerberg become editor in chief.
Could Mark Zuckerberg become editor in chief.

– particularly Facebook. The traditional mainstream media has lost control of its distribution platforms. 50 percent of Americans now get their news from Facebook. I don’t know the figure for New Zealand but my gut tells that is probably similar. There are two big problems with this.The first one is money. If you are not buying a paper, reading the advertisements in it, or watching the ads on a free to-air news broadcast or paying to access material on line, then the content provider is going to go broke. As we know, that’s what’s happening around the western world including New Zealand.

It’s not a quick death though, it is a slow and painful one, as Facebook and Google suck more and more money out of the market.News providers cut staff, lower quality, steal each other’s material and now try to trick the public into clicking onto nonsense stories in the hope of staying in business. All mainstream news media now distribute their content via Facebook. They don’t make much money out of it but they don’t really have a choice.
What the mainstream media has done, perhaps unwittingly, though, is to legitimise Facebook as a news source.

 

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Can Morning Report Build From The Mike Hosking Fall? Breakfast of Champions

When the radio industry changed to new combined GfK ratings system at the start of his year, commercial radio bosses insisted that RNZ National results should be kept separate from their own. Despite collecting similar information, it is hard to compare commercial and public broadcasting figures. Maybe the commercial radio people saw trouble ahead. unknown-67In this, the third survey of the year, Morning Report appears to be holding up well and National Radio maintains a 10.5 per cent share of the total radio audience. Meanwhile, Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB has taken a big tumble. Lets wait until the next survey. Things could turn around. But it seems possible that Hosking is losing his tight grip on the breakfast talk audience. Are people falling out of love with The Hosk?

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

Comedy Will Run “Story” Replacement – Betcha.

Comedian Guy Williams is expected to have a major role
Comedian Guy Williams is expected to have a major role

MediaWorks insists its new comedy news show “The Project” replacing “Story” is a joint venture between the news and entertainment divisions.  But based on what my sources are saying, the kiwi version of the Australian format show will be entertainment pure and simple – with little involvement from news.

It seems the entertainment operation had always wanted to take over the 7pm slot from news. After the Campbell Live debacle and poor ratings for Story, content boss Andrew Szusterman had convinced management that news and current affairs would not work. The Project has won accolades and seven Logie awards in Australia.

The big question is how the New Zealand’s version will compare given it will have much lower budgets.

“The Project” is not a sure bet. There has big challenges getting it ready for the first quarter of 2017 next year. New Zealand has some talented comedians and writers.

But will the Seven Days team that will have a big role be up to the challenge for a daily prime time show that promises funny TV. The Seven Days crew will have a big role. The Friday night show about four hours to make a half hour programme. Tv3 deserves the best of luck with The Project. I was not a huge fan of Story, but they did try. The Project in Australia has been successful with generous budgets and top talent. But will that happen here?

Lazy journalist research: What Wikipedia says about the format for The Project:unknown-66

The main content of the show revolves around Aly, Bickmore and Helliar at the desk discussing some of the news events of the day as reported by Bickmore. This discussion often involves live crosses to reporters or guests via satellite. Special guests, often of a celebrity nature, also regularly appear in studio, usually during each show’s final segments. In addition, the show features pre-recorded interviews with celebrities, conducted by either one of the main cast or US correspondent Jonathan Hyla. Feature stories by the main cast, often of a humorous but insightful nature, are also prominent throughout each week.

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No Shock. No Failure. This Time Henry Leaves On A High

CAPTION: The NZ Herald has reported Henry wants to move  to Palm Springs

MediaWorks and its owners at Oaktree Capital will know that Henry’s departure is a disaster and that it will make it even harder to find a buyer. MediaWorks is losing its only star at a time television faces a big challenge retaining advertising revenue. He has built up the TV audience for his TV3 breakfast show – and he has done that largely without turning to the shock jock tactics of the past ( The recent NZ Herald article excepted), It is true the rise for the Paul Henry show on RadioLive has been less dramatic. But In the latest radio survey, he increased his share of the audience, and the departure of his offsider Hillary Barry has made no impact.

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No Campbell, No Cry

CAPTION: Guy Williams is rumoured to be spearheading a new initiative at 7pm

Inevitably John Campbell fans will wish that the end of Story might mean a new beginning and John Campbell being brought  back to TV3. After all, Story was hastily installed to replace CampbellLive after a big falling out with management two years ago. But in my opinion MediaWorks management has never taken that idea seriously, and the new Aussie bosses hearts set on a humorous panel show. Lets face it, TV companies are marking away from journalism. not back towards it.

unknown-61The New Zealand Herald has suggested something like the Australian Ten Network show “The Project”, which explores some strong news angles. But If I were a betting man I would predict the replacement will be more about humour than the news. I have heard the comedy show “Seven Days” mentioned in despatches, as a template The NZ herald is speculating that Guy Williams will take a role. He has long been a part of MediaWorks initiatives.

Seven Days could offer a format for the new TV3 7pm show
Seven Days could offer a format for the new TV3 7pm show

But that is a big ask. It’s all very well to do a weekly show, but try translating that to daily shows and keeping up the laughs. It might work with someone like Paul Henry riffing off news topics, but it would be hard for Guy Williams to keep up. Campbell fans he clearly has his fans who would wish his style of campaigning journalism returned to TV at 7pm. But in my opinion TV3 is never going back to that, and MediaWorks was badly burnt when it was still on air. Fans launched a campaign to keep it on air, and it was embarrassing for MediaWorks. Former chief Mark Weldon played a big part. He may have gone. But the Campbell Live team clashed badly with company director Julie Christie – who had no great love for Campbell. Many of Campbell’s old fans have followed him the Radio New Zealand Checkpoint – where he has maintained somewhat cultish following. Indeed, Checkpoint has taken on some of the traits of Campbell Live.

 

 

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

End of Story, Morning Glory

An announcement is expected soon confirming that TV3 is to scrapped its weeknight magazine show Story.

The show had struggled in the ratings, and the NZ Herald reported this week that Story co-host Duncan Garner is to take over as host of the TV3 breakfast show, replacing Paul Henry. Garner’s Story co-host Heather du Plessis-Allan is expected to take a senior role at Newshub, possibly working alongside Paddy Gower in the parliamentary bureau, sources say. Henry – who embarked on a strange publicity interview with the Herald last week where he signalled he was unhappy. unknown-54He has separately insisted that he has no interest of going for the 7pm slot, and I am told he was scheduled to step down in April next year.  That may have been brought forward now. MediaWorks sources say that new Aussie management are having to get to grips with these latest upheavals after the departure of Hillary Barry to TVNZ. Former head of news and current affairs Mark Jennings – now a media consultant – said in an article in the pop culture website The Spinoff that he believes Henry will move on. Henry is said to be independently wealthy so does not need to work even though he earns a famously high salary providing the TV and radio show at MediaWorks. He is said to have been unhappy at MediaWorks since

PaulHenry felt less loved when Mark Weldon left.
PaulHenry felt less loved when Mark Weldon left.

Mark Weldon – a prime supporter for the show – stepped down from his job as CEO.  November and December are traditionally known in TV Land as the time for contract negotiations. At TVNZ this time of year was traditionally called “the clubbing of the seals. There will still be jobs around It seems likely that Story will be replaced by a humorous panel show with a comedy element. Maybe Henry might take part in that.

 

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ