NZ Herald: Nobody Wants It

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, January 28th, 2009 - 34 comments
Categories: business, Media - Tags:

sinking-herald2

It seems that Irish millionaire Tony O’Reilly won’t be solving his debt problems any time soon.

O’Reilly is desperate to be shod of his major shareholding in APN “which publishes the New Zealand Herald and is the largest radio and outdoor advertising operator in Australasia”. (No conflicts of interest in APN’s rabid anti-EFA campaigning there I’m sure.)

But nobody wants to buy.

It’s no secret that msm profitability has plummeted in recent years – what used to be a consistent double figures profit industry is now in deep shit and it’s far from clear where it’ll all end up. It seems that more than a decade of cost and corner-cutting just hasn’t been enough to counteract the effects of the internet and genuine competition for news audiences.

Of course those years of cost and corner cutting have also meant publishers like the Herald are no longer capable of producing material people might choose to pay for. Intelligent well informed journalists, ones that stand up to their editors in the interests of accuracy and integrity, just don’t fit APN’s accounting models even if they did want to write for the Herald.

In trying to maintain high profitability the Herald’s owners have cut away so much muscle that it just can’t compete with new media. And frankly now there are so many other sources to compare angles and facts with, it’s become too obvious to a critical mass of readers that the Herald is anything but an authoritative journal of record.

But don’t take my word for it, just ask the market.

34 comments on “NZ Herald: Nobody Wants It”

  1. West Australian Newspapers showed some interest but then sense prevailed.

  2. BLiP 2

    The Herald has always been the journal of the mercantile, but there was a time when the proud traditions of the fundamental reason for a free press were reflected in its reportage.

    These days style has replaced content; massive colour photos, 100 point headlines, side-bars filled with tautology, endless feasting on murder, drugs, and sleaze bordering on the salacious, and advertorial pieces have replaced actual news. Once-across-the top lightly puff pieces promoting the interests of its advertisers and the mindless re-printing of press releases have replaced any form of itellectual firepower and genuine journalism. Its attempt to join the electronic age has turned into a virtual talk-back-radio outlet for the ignorant and the nasty.
    The cleaning out of the news room and contracting out of the subs desk has gutted what was left of its integrity after it became just another foreign-owned business driven by profit by managers better suited to working in a baked bean cannery.

    I really do hope its not time yet to start the obituaries. I now get my news from the internet and sites like this which have taken up the cudgel required to maintain a semblance of the Fourth Estate . . . but what am I going to do without the Cryptic Crossword?

  3. Rich 4

    I’m rather hoping that the money will actually run out and the Herald will close.

    I can’t remember when I last bought a physical newspaper. I read them in cafes and planes, but I don’t buy them.

    I used to read the Listener, but stopped when it turned into a cross between a National party leaflet and a lifestyle magazine.

  4. Tigger 5

    Rich – I’m surprised the Nats don’t have their logo on the cover of the Listener, you’re right, it’s practically an advertorial for them. They lost me as a reader last year when I couldn’t stomach their right wing mantras any longer.

  5. cha 6

    Canned my Listener sub last year too, Joanne f**g Black and the cancellation of the Braunis and Brown columns.

  6. BLiP 7

    DeeDub! U da bomb! Thanks. There goes another Herald subscriber.

  7. The Herald and the Listener are now both owned by APN.
    Hence the increasing similarity of style and quality deficits. The two publications often act in concert, with the Listener priming an issue or angle then the Herald campaigning on it the subsequent week. It’s a textbook example of how to create and manipulate public opinion.

  8. For once I am in broad agreement with the post and a number of the comments.

    However, the same comments apply as well to the Fairfax stable

  9. Redbaiter 10

    Amuses me to see the extreme left that proliferate here accusing the Herald of a right wing bias, and using phrases like “stand up to the editors” when the Herald is NZ’s virtual New York Times, and if one wanted find any editorial that ever took anything but the standard left/liberal viewpoint, they would need to sift through thousands of editorials and “news” items praising Obama, sneering at Sarah Palin, denigrating George Bush, undermining the Iraq war effort, cheering for Helen Klark, praising Maori separatists, congratulating the Greens, propagandising for the myth of man made climate change and every other leftist social fad or strategy out there.

    The Herald is a pathetic left wing rag, pandering to far left liberals and bent academics, and totally out of touch with mainstream New Zealand. That’s why it and its New York counterpart are going broke. Not meeting the market.

    Whether 500 or so extreme left nut jobs (such as one finds writing so often here) buy the paper or not has never been the issue. The paper’s editorial slant has become a reflection of sneering left wing academia and is therefore completely out of touch with mainstream NZ sentiment. That’s why they’re going broke.

  10. Redbaiter 11

    What the hell is it about that comment that would cause it to be trapped by the moderation filter????

    [ah… that would be spelling Clark with a K]

  11. Redbaiter 12

    Hahahah.. really??? You’re kidding me right?? You moderate the relatively mild Clark with a K when there is so much really vicious stuff that goes down here??? How is that rational??? Just smacks of big brother.

    [lprent: After I’ve seen it a couple of hundred times by trolls whose intellectual level of expression is limited to misspelling names, I figured it was a pretty good way of excluding them.

    People who could not bear to live without their favorite misspellings or curious expressions that they threw into every other comment mostly go away. Shows a certain lack of tenacity. Those who didn’t were trapped for me to look at. If they were incapable of learning then eventually I got tired of correcting their mistakes and banned them for wasting my time.

    Worked a treat. Saved a lot of my precious time. Look at how often you get auto-moderated and tell me it doesn’t work…]

  12. Shona 13

    Oi! Redbaiter, you can take your hand off it now. Doesn’t that feel better ?.

  13. Redbaiter 14

    Shona, when you grow older, you’ll discover there are alternatives to masturbation. Not everyone, when confronted with an uncomfortable truth, feels the compulsions you obviously do.

  14. Redbaiter 15

    lprent- its your place. Do what you want, and good luck to you.

  15. Matthew Pilott 16

    The Herald really loved the EFA too, Red, you forgot that one. Not to mention the Winston Peters/Owen Glenn show. The 50-page puff-piece on Key, that was also pretty hard-left stuff wasn’t it?

    And if you’re going to suggest National is also big-government and as commie-toad as the rest of ’em, then you’ll need to redefine the ‘Mainstream New Zealand’ that the Herald is ‘out of touch with’ in a contorted fashion to explain why Mainstream NZ votes against what Mainstream NZ wants.

  16. Daveski 17

    LP – agree with your comments. Your moderation filter has been updated with DonKey then 🙂

    [lprent: It probably will be when I see enough of them. At present it low enough that I just ignore it. Besides what would eddie murphy think?]

  17. BLiP 18

    Some egg said:

    ” . . . undermining the Iraq war effort . . . ”

    There is no war in Iraq, only an illegal invasion and ongoing occupation being resisted by local patriots.

    ” . . . sneering at Sarah Palin . . . ”

    She was funny, though, don’t you think? Her “aw shucks” hillbilly ways, claiming to be an expert on foreign affairs because she could see Russia from parts of her State, just a simple hockey mom but spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a wardrobe, speaking in tongues as part of some cuckoo fringe religion . . the list goes on. That woman is almost as much of a goober as John Key.

    ” . . . denigrating George Bush . . . ”

    Next time you see that prick he’ll be in he dock facing war crimes; something your hero avoided by shooting his wife and then himself in that bunker.

    ” . . . cheering for Helen Klark . . . ”

    Oh, you mean the Greatest Living New Zealand? You’ve spelled it wrong.

    Red, you masturbater, the reason you are in the dark about so much is that you are so thick light bends around you.

  18. Redbaiter 19

    “claiming to be an expert on foreign affairs because she could see Russia from parts of her State”

    Just one lie in a litany of false cowardly smears. Worth remarking on only because it is the most obvious one, and demonstrates so accurately the truth that all that needs to occur for anyone to be categorised as ‘stupid’ is for the left liberal mainstream media to deem it so. Millions of indiscriminate low IQ propaganda sucking fools like Blip will then repeat it for them ad nauseaum.

  19. BLiP 20

    Hey Red-Masturbater – educate yourself – here is Palin herself trying to defend her comment that she was a aufait with foreign policy because she could see Russia from her state – you can either watch the video or read the transcript but you can’t deny the reality. Well, actually, you deny reality all the time but . . . .

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/25/palin-talks-russia-with-k_n_129318.html

    COURIC: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

    PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land– boundary that we have with– Canada. It– it’s funny that a comment like that was– kind of made to– cari– I don’t know, you know? Reporters–

    COURIC: Mock?

    PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

    COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.

    PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our– our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They’re in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia–

    COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

    PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We– we do– it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is– from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to– to our state.

  20. higherstandard 21

    BLIP

    “There is no war in Iraq, only an illegal invasion and ongoing occupation being resisted by local patriots.”

    Bush senior missed the best chance to sort Iraq out during the Kuwait episode I’ve always thought it would have been best to have topped Saddam at that stage and perhaps Iraq wouldn’t have been the shambles it is now.

    I think to dismiss the resistance in Iraq as just being local patriots is to be somewhat naive and would be similar to viewing the resistance in Afghanistan to merely being local patriots.

  21. Quoth the Raven 22

    In the words of Nelson Muntz “Haw haw your medium is dying”

    [sprout: excellent link, thanks QtR]

  22. Pascal's bookie 23

    HS, Bush senior couldn’t have topped Saddam at that point. None of his Arab coalition allies wanted that, there was no legal mandate to do so, and at that point in time he really did have large stockpiles of WMD. It wasn’t an option. Even noted peacenik Dick Cheney opposed the idea.

    Not all of the resistance to the US forces in Iraq has been by local patriots. I’d say most of it was though. Shiite patriots, Sunni patriots, Tribalist patriots, Baath patriots.
    There has also been resistence from AQ types, (but they mostly concentrated on formenting civil war as a tactic to drive the Americans out by making them look incompetent, an assymetrical strategy of ‘making things worse’) and Iranian backed groups (who ran a mostly political strategy and are now in charge).

  23. higherstandard 24

    PB

    One would have thought that a suitable bullet fired during a covert operation could have sorted him out fairly fast. I often wonder why the same reasoning hasn’t been applied to Bob Mugabe.

    I would have though with hindsight I would think that most of the regions states would agree that it would have been the better option than the current fiasco, although as always it depends who fills the power vacuum left.

    I also note you list a number of various “patriot” factions, I expect it will depressing to see these factions behaviour towards each other when the US forces exit and there is no longer a “common enemy” – although I hope for the sake of the Iraqi people I’m proved wrong.

  24. Redbaiter 25

    Blip, if you think that dialogue is something that in even the faintest way proves your claim that Sarah Palin “claimed to be an expert on foreign affairs because she could see Russia from parts of her State’ then you’re an even bigger fuckwit than I thought you were. (..and man, that’s some kind of FUCKWIT)

  25. gingercrush 26

    Redbaiter why do you regurgitate everything from Fox News? Its disturbing.

  26. Rex Widerstrom 27

    Hmmm I comment elsewhere on a shoddily written DomPost editorial that makes it sound as though motorists were firing at one another on the Auckland motorway, then come here to see an interesting piece on the decline of the MSM.

    The crux of the matter is, as The Sprout says:

    years of cost and corner cutting have also meant publishers like the Herald are no longer capable of producing material people might choose to pay for.

    That doesn’t mean newspapers are inevitably doomed. Find me an online news service I can prop up against the jam jar and spill coffee and croissant crumbs all over. Or one I can read on the balcony on a sunny day without squinting. Or that I can read on the train and then dispose of in the bin without having to carry it round all day. Or that I can easily pick up and read while ignoring the ads on TV till the programme starts again…

    Newspapers, like books, don’t have to die, but they need owners who realise that the same model that succeeds in the production of baked beans will not work when applied to newspapers.

    Both the right and the left complain loudly of bias, often by the same medium (as perfectly illustrated above!) yet there seems to be no one sufficiently motivated to try to create an alternative based on the old model that saw companies like Blundell Bros (original publishers of the Evening Post, who endured for 100 years) and the Wellington Publishing Co (the originiator of The Dominion).

    The latter was formed by small businessmen and farmers who felt that the NZ Times (the Wellington morning daily of the early 1900s) was too “liberal” (read: left). Eventually The Dominion won, and the Times was absorbed.

    Yes, those newspapers didn’t have to face the Internet. But they did fend off competition from local newspapers (who hit their classified revenues), specialised “Trade & Exchange” type papers, a plethora of specialist and general magazines, the expansion of titles which had traditionally had small circulations (for instance when I edited “Straight Furrow” it went from a members-only circulation of 50,000 to a free rural delivery of close to 500,000), radio and television.

    There are many reasons why they survived, but I think an important one was the multiplicity of shareholdings. Thousands of “mum and dad” investors were proud to own a small bit of their local newspaper and, provided the share value remained steady or rose a bit, they saw it more as part of a retirement plan than an income.

    But they were (sometimes forcibly) bought out by the INLs and the O’Reillys, whose shareholders held much larger chunks and who looked to the operations to produce increased dividends every year. From that point on the degradation of qaulity was inevitable because in a more competitive advertising market the only possible way to give them what they wanted was to start cutting.

    If so many people truly feel our newspapers are inadequate, then it needs someone to step up and float a new one. Offer it to the “mum and dad” investors accompanied by conservative projections, and aim for as widespread a shareholding as possible.

    Of course now is not the time to do so, alas. But it could have been done in the past and… hopefully… the time will come again when it’s possible. For those of us who still like the feel of newspring between our fingers, let’s hope someone has the foresight to do so.

  27. Quoth the Raven 28

    That doesn’t mean newspapers are inevitably doomed. Find me an online news service I can prop up against the jam jar and spill coffee and croissant crumbs all over. Or one I can read on the balcony on a sunny day without squinting. Or that I can read on the train and then dispose of in the bin without having to carry it round all day. Or that I can easily pick up and read while ignoring the ads on TV till the programme starts again

    Flexible O-led screens or other such technology will be able accomplish many of these tasks. No need to worry we can kill the newspapers yet.

  28. BLiP 29

    Redbaiter

    I can tell that what you lack in charm you make up for with ryhipnol.

  29. Peter Burns 30

    I can smell a Miss K . Must go for fresh air down at the park with the larks. C you.

  30. Rex Widerstrom 31

    QtR:

    But will it also line the floor of my parrot cage (and provide her with nesting material to shred when she’s feeling broody)? And wrap my meat scraps so they don’t pong in the bin? And let me clip bits out of them and blu-tack to the wall to remind me of things? 😛

    BLiP:

    Funny thing is, “I can see Russia from my house” (or from Alaska) was one of the dumb things Palin didn’t say… it was a Tina Fey original that meshed so nicely with Palin’s stumbling claim she had “foreign policy experience” because Alaska was near to both Russia and Canada that the reality blurred.

    Certainly some sections of the media went overboard, even travelling to the one point in Alaska from where you can see Russia and reporting that “no Governor has ever visited”. Well, no Governor ever claimed they did… the irony being that in clumsily attempting to attack Palin over what she didn’t say, these so-called journalists provided her defenders with plenty of evidence with which to claim bias.

    But equally I don’t understand the need of some people to defend Palin as intelligent when clearly she’s not… someone who cannot name a single US newspaper (even if you’re lying about reading it) isn’t well-informed enough for public office. They cant seem to understand the opinion isn’t always motivated by left wing bias (I’d never call Margaret Thatcher dumb, for instance) but an honestly held perception based on her own, unedited, words.

  31. BLiP 32

    Rex said:

    ” . . . someone who cannot name a single US newspaper . . .”

    Maybe she didn’t use exactly that phrase but, as you can see from her own words quoted above, she cerrtainly referred to Russia’s proximity to Alaska as a reason why she had foreign relations experiece. And, as for stupid – she didn’t even know Africa was continent, not a country.

    I appreciate your moderate tone. Cheers Rex.

  32. Rex Widerstrom 33

    BLiP: And let’s not forget “our neighbouring country of Afghanistan”. It’s a wonder this woman can find her way home to Anchorage, and not end up in Reykjavík. “Awww, coom on nooo, they booth have snow, ya know? Anyone could get mixed up. Hey, you folks don’t have a Presidential campaign anytime soo, do ya?”. 😀

  33. Stephen 34

    More than two million unique visitors a month to the Herald’s website is pretty impressive…you’d think that would sweeten the deal, seeing as you get more than just a daily rag. Of course most NZ papers have a website, but being on Stuff is bit different.

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  • Ministers approve application to expand Waihi mine
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