Premature announcement – Newsroom

Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings had already  indicated they were working on a new media venture, but now more details have emerged so they have gone with a premature announcement.

StopPress: ‘Well, that’s one way to announce your arrival’

Newsroom, a new independent and high quality news and current affairs website we are launching soon, made its public debut yesterday via the grand and important forum of the website of the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

News of the venture that Mark Jennings, ex head of news and current affairs at TV3, and I are forming was included in documents lodged with the Commission by the two applicants for #StuffMe, Fairfax and NZME, to support their argument that their merger won’t harm plurality of journalistic voices.

To use the old tabloid ‘screamer’ headline: ‘It’s Official!’

Newsroom.co.nz is our planned site and brand. We’ve gathered some top editors, digital journalists and video experts and we have what we think is a sustainable and high-appeal answer to filling a gap in the journalism market for Real News. Internally, we’re calling our content target the ‘Things that Matter’.

It will use fresh digital and social media approaches – will be optimised for mobile consumers – and be classy, calm and contemporary. Newsroom will feature video news and current affairs prominently and cleverly.

It will be targeted at an audience that in broad terms we’ve defined as New Zealanders who care. News hounds. People who vote. People aware of the needs of good journalism in a democracy like ours.

There have been many calls for better journalism in contrast to the tabloidisation of the ‘mainstream media’, which in a reaction to diving advertising revenue have moved towards trivial clickbait based headlines.

Time will tell whether there is a market for it.

Our plan is actually two plans: a direct specialist news service for paying subscribers called Newsroom Pro, and an open public site for quality journalism called Newsroom.co.nz which will be funded by four to five revenue streams including corporate sponsors as founding supporters.

So it will partly be free, partly subscription. Fair enough. But how many people are prepared to pay for more and better news?

There are already subscription news and political commentary services available, such as NBR, Politik and Trans Tasman. So far I have resisted paying for any of them. For me there’s just not enough extra to justify the cost.

We are working with the outstanding journalist and digital news activist Bernard Hickey to add his separately successful Hivenews.co.nz daily feed of economics and political news to the Newsroom Pro offering. Then we will add three or four more experienced journalists and additional subject areas to provide a comprehensive paid content offering.

Newsroom Pro will cover Economics and trade, Politics and policy, Environment and Sustainability, Energy and Technology when it is launched in February when the business and political world returns to work.

Newsroom aims to fill an unmet need for an independent, scalable and substantial provider of news and analysis on the things that matter to New Zealanders.

The subscription service is one half of that plan. Those who are prepared to pay for the private benefit of expert news will also be supporting the other half, the public good of an open, free and general interest news website.

Our focus will be on news.

I think that there is more of a lack of in depth investigation.

We will be rigorous in weeding out fake news.

As any reputable news outlet should be – it’s good to know they won’t make stuff up  or repeat overseas crap but it shouldn’t have to be said, it should just be.

New Zealanders want quality, real news and analysis. It need not and will not be dull. Experienced and high-profile journalists will work to put things in context, but in an appealing, interpretative style.

Some New Zealanders. Enough to want to pay for it? The big question.

We identified 33 subject areas we believe the major media players have been forced to withdraw from covering in any detail or depth because of the cuts to staffing and capability forced on them by digital disruption taking away their advertising dollars and readers.

We’ve narrowed that to about nine to ten main areas of things that matter – subjects we think New Zealanders want to see examined fairly and calmly and in depth.

We will work with the peerless international news agency, the Associated Press, and other partners to bring global issues that matter to a New Zealand audience.

Newsroom.co.nz’s journalism will be independent – politically non-partisan, not part of the big four of Fairfax, NZME, Mediaworks or TVNZ, and with editorial independence resting solely with the co-editors.  We’ll have an advisory board to keep us to our task.

Our audience work has helped us define who we think will read and watch us. We aim to serve those aged 25 plus (and not stopping in their mid 50s) who care enough to vote, read, debate and share serious views and news.

Odd to specify an age range and virtually rule out young people who are leading the transformation of how we view news.

“Who care enough to vote, read, debate and share serious views and news” – a shrinking market?

We’re an alternative.  Focused on news.

We want to add to all of their work by creating a sustainable twin-pillar model for quality and independent New Zealand news. And to provide them some competition along the way.

But we’re going to give it a go in the quality news market.  There has been wonderful, unprompted, support from people way beyond the journalism or media bubble who think there is a need…. and want Newsroom to succeed.

Good to see them have a go. I wish them well and hope they succeed. When I see how much they charge for a subscription – will they aim for mass market or go elite/expensive? – I’ll consider supporting Newsroom with my money.

Leave a comment

10 Comments

  1. Mefrostate

     /  1st December 2016

    Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings are like the angel and devil (yes, respectively) sitting on the shoulder of the news consumer. One begs you to really sink your teeth into a 500-word investigative piece, the other offering a “snack-able” bite of the delicious tabloid-bar.

    I wish them all the best, and am always keen to see better sources of quality journalism. But I fear that the need for clicks to compete, and the influence of sponsored content, will just make them another Herald/Stuff – both of which are essentially blacklisted for me, these days.

    I contributed funds to the Spinoff’s recent ‘Battle for Auckland’ campaign, support a mental-health journalist, and subscribe to The Economist. Would happily throw some money toward Newsroom if they can prove their mettle on exposing and exploring issues that actually matter for civil society.

    Reply
  2. duperez

     /  1st December 2016

    Interesting. Spluttering in the coffee gives way to bemusement. World weariness, media wariness.

    In just 21 years the New Zealand Warriors rugby league club has had more incarnations than could be reasonably expected in a lifetime. Each incarnation with a new CEO or head coach was announced, extolled and signaled as the ‘real deal.’ Everyone aboard.

    Up a couple of streets, around a couple of corners and the wheels fall off. After the wailing, again the hoopla, the fire and light in the eyes and the absolute steel, the golden road ahead.
    Action replay.

    There’s to be a source of “quality and independent New Zealand news”
    to “serve those … who care enough to vote, read, debate and share serious views and news.”

    Good luck with that.

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  1st December 2016

    IMO, adding Hickey to the team weakens rather than strengthens it unless his contribution is just as a conduit for other sources rather than his own interminably repetitive opinions.

    I will be interested depending on value for money.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  1st December 2016

      Hickey backs his ‘opinions’ with facts,every time.(dont bother PDB)

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  1st December 2016

        He sprays facts but his opinions are click-bait crap, as predictable as they are wrong.

        Reply
  4. Everything seems to be trending in the other direction IMHO, towards Lowest Common Denominator ‘Post-Truth’ News, so Newsroom Pro will need to be expensive and elitist by default …

    A far more important issue today is education and people having critical faculties and the ability to ‘filter’ what news we receive especially since there’s so much of it, and so much of it is dubious …

    Why were the Soviets involved in Peace Movements all around the world in the 70s & 80s?

    1) To stealthily infiltrate democracies with their socialist, communist ideals?
    2) To promote peace and slow the arms race, to use their military expenditure on social programs?

    Reply
    • That’s an ‘either/or’ question by the way …

      Reply
    • duperez

       /  1st December 2016

      “A far more important issue today is education and people having critical faculties and the ability to ‘filter’ … ”

      And who’s to do this educating? If it’s in schools, under what curriculum? And by whom? Surely not leftist scumbag teachers in bouts of social engineering?

      And if it’s young people to be educated it’s by their parents? Parents with their demonstrated critical faculties?

      Reply
      • @ duperez – Personally I feel the very idea that all teachers are “leftist scumbag teachers” and that these nasty teachers can actually achieve “bouts of social engineering” is to belittle teachers as being nothing more than stereotyped, one dimensional, compartmentalized political undercover ‘drones’; gives no credence to the ‘filtering’ qualities of education itself – learned as well as taught – and credits no intelligence, self-motivation or originality to the students themselves, as independent individuals, and even less to their parents … and/or grossly inflates the power of teachers in people’s lives …

        Consider the possibility we believe in a three-way ‘loop’ involving media (for instance), advertisers and audience, when this ‘system’ will actually function perfectly well with only the first two components. Provided there’s enough advertising the audience may be unnecessary … or the audience may take very little notice …

        Why would we assume the students are taking any notice of these “scumbag teachers” if they actually do exist …?

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  2nd December 2016

          Oh ouch Duparez! Not all parents are useless, the vast majority of us actually do GAF about ‘the fruit of our loins’….
          Our eldest son is ’99th percentile’, which in laymans terms, means he is pretty bloody clever. He spoke his first complete sentence at 9 months old, and could read at the ripe old age of 3. It wasn’t long after, that he started writing words on paper with his crayons, or anything else he could get his hands on…
          So he gets to school at 5, and quickly realises that he is surrounded by individuals who are far less capable than himself. so just ‘cruises along’, until his teacher attempts to teach the class how to write properly. And when she does, he falls into his ‘default mode’, which is ‘pay little attention, because I already know’…
          To this day (he is now 15), I still hassle him about his messy handwriting, and thank Christ that he can touch type!
          Go a little easier on the teachers, they have a hard enough time already, getting those who arrive at school unequipped to learn, ‘up to speed’. I don’t blame my son’s teachers for his terrible handwriting, that was entirely my wifes fault…

          Reply

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