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30 May 2024  •  Joanna James

Why is a thriving media landscape vital for Aotearoa, our people and our businesses? 

With the sweeping and unprecedented changes to our fourth estate raising questions about the future of ‘news’ as we know it, we hosted a special panel discussion on the state of our media landscape and why it matters to businesses.

Our panellists are at the heart of what is currently unfolding in our media environment:
Duncan Grieve, Founder of The SpinOff and host of media podcast, ‘The Fold’
Joanna Norris, MD Stuff Masthead Publishing
Gaven Morris, MD of Bastion Transform Australia and former News Director at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Duncan, Joanna and Gaven shared their insights on the challenges and opportunities in our media industry and why these are important for all businesses wanting to engage a New Zealand audience.

We’ve summarised the key outtakes that landed for us:

Trust in Media
The speakers emphasised the significance of trust in media, addressing the challenges of misinformation and disinformation. The decline in trust of our media sector has been largely influenced by search engines and social media, which are becoming increasingly relied upon for news consumption despite the rise of misinformation on these channels. To help maintain credibility, inclusive content that reaches diverse communities is vital. And to address the challenges of misinformation and disinformation, it’s also vital we clearly distinguish opinion from news content. Trustworthy journalism in a democratic society and we need more conversations around the importance of media trust.

Impact of Global Platforms & Need for Regulation
For our local media players to be able to continue creating compelling, trusted content while competing with the global tech platforms like Meta and Google, we need stronger government regulations to support local journalism. The panellists highlighted the global trend towards subscription models for news, indicating a strong appetite for trusted and relevant content, as seen by the success of The SpinOff’s take on a subscription model. And with the more AI being leveraged in traditional media, we rapidly need to work out how to balance the risks with the efficiency benefits.

Community Engagement and Corporate Responsibility
Community engagement and corporate responsibility were key themes of the conversation with questions raised around how businesses considering the most impactful ways to engage local audiences, alongside where their advertising dollars are going to achieve this. All of us, media and the business community alike, ultimately have a role to play in fostering quality journalism and engaging young New Zealanders on critical issues like climate change. To build a life-long interest in current affairs and key issues for youngers audiences, we need to deliver news content in a more contemporary and dynamic way.

Subscription Models in Media
With subscription media models on the rise, our panellists are optimistic about the willingness of audiences to pay for trusted and relevant content. They highlighted the success of subscription models in generating revenue and sustaining media organisations, especially during challenging times. The discussion stressed the importance of balancing mass reach with subscription-based revenue models to ensure financial sustainability and quality journalism.

The Future of Media
As Aotearoa continues to grapple with how to sustain a robust media sector in a small population, what came through resoundingly from our panel was the dedication and passion of our journalists around the country to engage their communities with quality local storytelling. What’s clear is there is no shortage of innovation in Aotearoa’s media businesses in terms of how they’ve evolving to continue delivering valuable content to increasingly diverse audiences.

Ngā mihi nui to Duncan, Joanna, Gaven and all of our clients who joined us for an evening of insightful and thought-provoking conversation.

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