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The long goodbye

Written By: - Date published: 11:45 pm, July 8th, 2010 - 62 comments
Categories: newspapers - Tags: , ,

Newspaper and magazine readerships continue to plummet despite the end of the recession.

The mags have taken a big hit. Nearly all of them are down. NBR and Investigate are typical having lost 10% of their readership over the last year, on top of losses the year before.

The biggest falls are the major newspapers. The Herald has shed 92,000 readers since 2005. The Sunday-Star Times lost 90,000 readers (15%!) last year alone.

It’s got to the point where they literally can’t give the SST away.

In some Burger Kings and Subways you can now get a free SST with your food. This is a photo taken after midday on Monday in a Subway:

The pile of SSTs that are free with a subway is hardly touched after a day and a half.

I wonder how they’re going to turn things around – more gutter journalism with front page stories about politicians’ children maybe? That’s what the public is crying out for.

As the media becomes more and more sensationalist and lightweight, the defence we always here is that they’re giving the public what we want. Well, last year, over 60,000 more Kiwis gave up reading newspapers. Maybe they’re not delivering what the public wants after all.

62 comments on “The long goodbye”

  1. Getting rid of Jonothan Marshall would be a start.

    • G8 1.1

      Totally agree Jono Marshall is gutter press at his best. Dumbing down of the media continues and people are voting with their wallets, dont you love the free market!

    • big bruv 1.2

      Ha ha, is that the answer?, sack every jounro who is not a screaming pinko and apologist for the Labour party.

      The Heralds demise began under the previous government, they gave up even pretending to be journalists in favour of printing Clark’s press releases word for word.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1

        I see you’re trying to rewrite reality to suit your delusions again burt, The newspapers in NZ only reports NACT press releases word for word. They attack the Labour Party on spurious grounds.

      • fraser 1.2.2

        deleted by author

  2. Jenny 2

    The Sunday-Star Times, originally published as Dominion Sunday Times before swallowing up its rival the Star on Sunday which it virtually had taken over the market from.

    In 1981 coming from nowhere, it achieved a mass readership almost overnight, with it’s leading photo journalism around the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour.

    With a more balanced coverage of the anti-apartheid protests it stood out from the crowd when compared to the established media, becoming the must read journal of the country, and gaining a left wing reputation in the process.

    How times have changed. (no pun intended)

  3. Cnr Joe 3

    Well au revoir then.
    How whacky, printing paper and ink bundles of ads, scrawling and information and calling it ‘news’, like – hours after the events…e noho ra, sayonara, and now .. whats happening?

  4. tsmithfield 4

    Why anyoine would actually buy a newspaper these days is beyond me given all the online sources of news available.

  5. BLiP 5

    The death of the print media is a victory for capitalism. A disinterested, individually focussed, ill-informed, and easily-titillated customer base is exactly what’s required to allow the poisoning of the planet in the name of delivering the latest gadget into the hands of children and even more riches to the already rich. Its all a part of the relentless reduction of humans into consumers, politicians into managers, and journalism into entertainment. Suck it up New Zealand, you deserve it.

    • Quoth the Raven 5.1

      Why do you think the public will be ill-informed if the print media dies out? Haven’t you noticed the explosion of web-based resources. It’s those that are killing the print media. We’re no longer beholden to professional journalists and their viewpoints. Why lament their demise? I don’t see how any of your tirade follows from the simple observation in the post of the continuing demise of print media.

      • BLiP 5.1.1

        I agree that that internet has the potential to fill the gap but what’s actually happening is that people of like minds are congregating in their own silos, only reading that which they agree with, and, especially amongst the youth, filling their media not with information but entertainment.

        There’s no need to remain ill-informed, it just seems most people are choosing to do so.

    • ieuan 5.2

      Gosh BLiP, how do you get out of bed in the morning with such a depressing view of the world?

    • big bruv 5.3

      What a load of old rubbish.

      Were you saying the same thing when the Herald was the mouthpiece of the Labour party?

      Did I hear you screaming about the ‘death of the print media’ when they were under orders from the ninth floor to praise ‘dear leader’ at least three times in ever issue?

      The media turned on Labour and the left, now you want to shut them down, free speech is not to be tolerated in NZ it seems.

      • felix 5.3.1

        When did you get interested in free speech?

        If you had any conviction about that at all you’d pay your debt to wikileaks despite disagreeing with their stance.

        Any other course of action makes a total mockery of anything you will ever say about free speech or the media ever again and leaves you wide open to ridicule any time you comment on the subject.

      • BLiP 5.3.2

        big bludge <3 free speech


  6. Butyeahbutnahyeahnah 6

    If you brought a cup of coffee on the way to work – and found instead of coffee, you had just purchased an empty cup – would you thenv go back for more?
    What if they started putting prozac in that cup insted?
    What if, in fact, it was brought by the prozac company, who happened to own everything else and started using it as an advestising platform to prove that prozac is much better than that evil coffee stuff it replaced, and that said company doesn’t actually own everthing?

    Even if it was free, I wouldn’t touch it.

    “You can have any colour you like as long as you got the balls to stand up and demand it!”

    • James 6.1

      Someone doesn’t like prozac.

      I’d say it’s interesting that this was typed about on a blog, one of the other forms of gutter press which are reportedly stealing readers from the printed media.

      It’s be a combination of reasons why the print media is no-longer selling as well as it once was; simply put there are alternatives to the print media and these alternatives are thriving (the fact that most papers are owned by fairfax and often a load of SH*T is only one reasons among many).

  7. GP 7

    I blame the editorial direction the paper has taken over the past five years. They have some really good journalists working there (and no I am not referring to Jonathan Marshall) but I think their talents have gone to waste because of the focus on celebrity news and gutter journalism. The paper is meant to be the flagship of the Fairfax group and has more resources than any other paper within that group in the country yet week after week, their front section produces utter drivel that constitutes as news.
    In saying that, I still believe they produce an excellent feature and sports section.

  8. Jono 8

    There is probably a useful contrast to be made between those print organs in decline (heh, organs) and those which are thriving. Atlantic Monthly is going from strength to strength on the basis of the quality of its writers and long-form journalism, and the the expansive added value of its online offerings. Many of The Standard’s readers will be aware of uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan but he is just the most obvious referent…While his blogging is great, his open letter to G.W. Bush asking for an apology for acts of torture to wipe away the stain on American honour was an outstanding piece of writing that you would be unlikely to see anywhere else.

    I let my subsciption to TIME lapse in 2000 after 10 years of readership, mainly due to its coverage of the Bush primary and its increasing tabloidisation. The next time I sibscribed to a magazine it was the Atlantic, two years ago. I dont think you would find a more loyal subscriber base either, going from the feedback they get online.

  9. ghostwhowalksnz 9

    The problem with the celebs/crims/sports fizz, that its such a low standard as well.
    look here for world class pap
    Do we look like WAGs yet? Ashley Cole’s student ‘friends’ enjoy their newfound fame in LA
    500 words AND a dozen pics. Now thats journalism

  10. Bella 10

    The only reason I now buy a newspaper is when I am raising puppies.

  11. I had understood magazines to faring quite well (albeit more dispersed than previously).

  12. Bill 12

    Here’s a way to exert control over a population in order that ‘you’, the controller, get to go about your business unmolested.

    Focussed propaganda that constantly spins a particular line or narrowly defined interpretation of events, situations, peoples and countries and that elevates specific matters, such as the nation’s economic health, up through a manufactured league of supposed importance. ( We’ve got that.)

    Have so much going on everywhere that nobody knows what is going on. ( We’ve got that.)

    Msm have done their job, have no real function any more and can be allowed to fade.

    They have delivered ‘the news’ to us for generations and in the process developed a culture of acquiescence that gets delivered straight back to our corporate masters.

    Back in the 60s there was a French poster that depicted a bottle of poison with the word ‘MEDIA’ on it and a warning ‘Do Not Swallow’. Seems we didn’t pay enough attention.

  13. Blue 13

    Be careful what you wish for. Journalists are like lawyers – you may not like them, but you need them.

    Most people wouldn’t want to go to court and defend themselves – do you really want a society where there are no professional journalists and you have to scrape together what’s going on in the world from a variety of sources of questionable veracity?

    The media ain’t perfect, but neither is democracy. They’re what we ended up with because the alternatives were worse.

    • Puddleglum 13.1

      Wrong. The alternatives were better.

      The modern media were preceded by a much more potent form of discussion and debate and an amazing variety of informational channels. In late 18th century London debating societies were highly popular and, often on a weekly basis, would attract thousands of people from all classes to listen to provocatively chosen issues of the day (admittedly often with ‘saucy’ topics as well). Over 50% of the English population were literate and opinionated newspapers were everywhere. Coffee houses teemed with people from all classes and typically had bundles of newspapers available for reading. A French visitor ‘complained’ that workmen would often be found not working, reading newspapers for hours.

      In the 19th century, pamphlets, tracts and a variety of activist and union newspapers were highly popular, even here in New Zealand – look at some of them and notice not only the density of information and argument and lack of ads but also the highly political nature of what was being read by an impressive proportion of the population (so much for ‘ordinary people don’t care about politics).

      And, if you think that that is all a long time ago and not relevant today then all I can say is that it’s a mere eye-blink. My own grandfather fought under Kitchener in the Sudan, FGS.

  14. Tanya 14

    I’ve stopped purchasing the Herald because of its blatant left-wing bias and it’s adherence to govt agendas. The SST has a few good writers, but is once again biased towards the Left, it’s just so blatant. I’d rather spend my money on Investigate magazine or similar. Much more balanced, in-depth and interesting!

    • The Voice of Reason 14.1

      Nice one, Tanya! I reckon Friday’s the ideal day for some tongue in cheek satire. Have got any more rib ticklers?

  15. Fisiani 15

    SST publishing that beat up non story about the lack of security at domestic rugby matches was the last straw for me.

  16. E. Campbell 16

    It’s really sad to have witnessed the ongoing decay of the ‘The Sunday Star-Times’ over the last five or six years. It used to be a flagship national weekly paper that used to take me a good couple of hours to get through. Now I can be done in about half an hour, with its tabloid gossip and nonsense stories (e.g. Goff’s daughter as the lead…really?). It’s now little more than fluff and an advertising vehicle. In fact, it’s only a coat of paint that separates it from its stablemate, the ‘Sunday News’, in terms of the main broadsheet news elements of the paper. Not surprised to learn it’s on the decline at all.

  17. Tanya 17

    No, I’m serious. Investigate is an honest, ballsy, pulls-no-punches magazine. It calls a spade a spade and seems to have a good balance. I look forward to each issue, and sometimes score back issues off Trade Me. I just wish there were more publications like it! The Listener is OK, but is still Left-wing, as is Metro and The Economist. All the main stream media in NZ is left-wing biased, and often blatantly so.

    • Bored 17.1

      Love to know how you define left wing…are you somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan?

      • The Voice of Reason 17.1.1

        From memory, Tanya thinks that Rodders is barely rightwing at all and the Nats are just blue rinsed socialists. I suspect Tanya is the righty equivalent of those red guard bores who refuse to participate in any left wing activities because it’s all a sell out, maaan, but are happy to sit on the sideline and bag those who do make an effort.

        • big bruv

          So you would sack Tanya would you Voice?

          Fire anybody who was not a card carrying member of the Labour party?

          Do you really see it as the job of the Press to push the Labour party line?

          • The Voice of Reason

            Jeez, what have you been huffing Blub? Sack Tanya from what? She’s entitled to have her opinion and her say. Read my comment again (my apologies for using such big words in it). Her opinion of various newspapers and magazines doesn’t bother me in the least because, while she may be politically Palinist, at least she’s not a hypocrite. Pay up or shut the fuck up, you self deluding sad sack.

        • lprent

          Yeah, I know the type. It is easier than working for anything when you can simply be against everything.

          They are less common than I remember on the left (although many anarchists I met recently sound exactly like the same type of whiners). But it really does sound like the sewer..

    • Fabregas4 17.2

      The Listener was in all honesty a left magazine under Findlay McDonald now it is slightly right of Roger Douglas.

  18. Bored 18

    Law of supply and demand in action for all those righties out there, if the journalism is not creating a demand you won’t pay for it. I sent the Listener a letter telling them in terms they would understand that they were “fired’ for becoming a vehicle for angst stories for the pampered middle classes, with all angst cures being neo liberal prescriptions. Could no longer be bothered paying for their propaganda.

    I expect the old “the web has taken over’ excuses ..if a papers site (or independent journalists) has appropriate demand for its journalistic endeavours etc it will most likely be able to garner banner advertising etc to pay for the efforts directly supply and demand again.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.1

      it will most likely be able to garner banner advertising etc.


      There’s people who still see ads on the internet?

      • Lanthanide 18.1.1

        Yes, some people actually don’t mind supporting the websites they visit that rely on ads for revenue. Like this one, for example.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Personally, I’d prefer to pay a subscription/donation. Adverts just piss me off – especially the flashing ones that always distract me.

          • felix

            I have a real problem with moving ads, main driver of adblocking I reckon. No problem with static ones though.

      • Bored 18.1.2

        Draco, I like Adblock….its good, however theres still “adverts”. Have a gink at the top of the Standard home page, theres a Seek link and a Werewolf links there. Without wanting to second guess Standard commercial arrangements these types of links can be revenue generating i.e sponsorred etc. Good part is that if your message is not getting through and you cannot demonstrate “hits” you wont get sponsors.

    • prism 18.2

      Thanks for telling the Listener that Bored. I have thought it but not walked the walk. When they did a piece on renovating the lounge room I gagged.

      Incidentally I did catch one good news story well told – about Dr or Mr Swee Tan. He and his team have discovered what makes strawberry birth marks rise and fall, and in so doing have made a big stride in understanding the nature of some cancers and they set out to make them ‘commit suicide’ – a very neat solution.

  19. deemac 19

    Investigate has a “good balance”? you are indeed having a laugh! Wishart’s paranoid rantings are a stain on NZ politics

  20. and just what the hell am i supposed to light my fire or wipe my arse with if newspapers go out of print and i can’t afford toilet paper ?

    …shit just slides of a glossy mag and it doesnt burn properly to get the kindling going

    fucken woe is me !!!

    • uke 20.1

      Such recycling has to be applauded.

      But remember, there will still be junkmail and community newspapers available.

      • Lanthanide 20.1.1

        “But remember, there will still be junkmail available”

        Fixed that for you.

        • uke

          Cheers – I figured it was one of life’s certainties, along with death and taxes.

  21. I guess it says a lot about our community that its printed on a few bits of A4, folded in half and stapled together, compiled by some guy in his sparetime using his home ‘puter and printer and distributed through the local school.

    captcha : spirits (oooh spooky)

  22. Tiger Mountain 22

    Go Polly! watch those staples though…

    Oh well, it looks like the end of the national “sausage wrapper’ is near. Haven’t bought one in months, used to get SST just for a change from net, but soon realised not worth it. I predict regional papers, and suburban freebies to keep on truck’n though.

  23. Rex Widerstrom 23

    The Weekend Australian is always sold out unless I get up early enough on a Saturday morning to buy it. I read the first (news) section on the weekend, then spend an entire week of breakfasts leisurely reading excellent analysis, features, arts and other sections.

    Its readership is fairly steady and rose slightly for the Monday to Friday editions this past year. Of it’s 850,000+ readers around half have household incomes over $80,000 and so are attractive to advertisers.

    But then it’s columnists are people like Noel Pearson and Paul Kelly (no, not the singer, the other one) – people with vast depth and breadth of experience and a valuable perspective to offer.

    The SST, on the other hand, has Michael Laws, Rosemary McLeod et al.

    Conincidence? I think not. People will buy quality, whether its delivered on newsprint or by other means. They won’t buy crap.

    • prism 23.1

      When I was in Britain in the 1970’s I enjoyed the weekend papers there, and their magazines. In depth articles and celebrity pieces but not so much the young current actress, but on survivors and other heroes.

      Still remember about the girl who was the only one living after a plane crash which killed her parents in Peru? She walked out of the jungle alone, exept for a few leeches etc. Also dug out parasites breeding under her skin and other stoic achievements. Great story.

      See NZ sunday papers, they are agonising about whether women should wear 15cm or 30cm high heels and the latest sporting jock and whether it’s more acceptable to use olive oil or rice bran oil on your rocket and what the latest minimalist home decor is like. Actually they could do a really rousing story on the tin sheds at Queens Wharf which I think are full of style waiting to be uncovered.

      • Bored 23.1.1

        OK Prism, lets get a real top selling story to save the MSM……Jonkey goes with top model on photo shoot opportunity, crashes plane in jungle, borrows her 30cm heels and proves to be a real sports jock, brings back rescue team (and photographer) to save injured model from man eating leaches, which he promptly cooks in rice bran oil and feeds to the famished lovely. Womens Weekly fights it out with Herald for interview with Bronnie about what it is really like to live with a real life photo icon and hero……..feck I know its Friday night but with this sort of dribble I could write for the Listener…..no wonder the MSM is buggered.

        • prism

          Well Bored, I may be a bit slow, but your writing that you call dribble I call marvellous journalism. I loved what you did with bits and pieces of ideas to make a dramatic story and you left the whole thing on a cliffhanger. Will there be a sequel?

          • Bored

            The real world hopes not, far worse fates are in store for all concerned…..will make a great uncovered story.

  24. Tanya 24

    This thread is quite funny. Actually, I sacked myself, revoked my once-Leftie membership, and moved right. Yes, Conservative right, not mealy-mouthed centre-right! Oh, if only NZ had a true blue Maggie Thatcher!

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