NZME has officially announced the launch of a new women's lifestyle magazine called Spy, which will be inserted into the Herald on Sunday every week from 25 October.
The media company has pitched the move as an attempt to fill in the market left by New Idea after the publishing partnership between Pacific Magazines and NZME came to an end.
The end of this partnership coincided with the loss of 22 jobs as Pacific Magazines decided to discontinue the publication of local versions of New Idea and Girlfriend magazine. In lieu of the local publications, Pacific Magazines has been distributing the Australian editions of the respective magazines here.
The dummy cover for this weekend's Spy.
New Idea's editor Jacqui Loates-Haver was one who lost her job but NZME has now appointed her as the head of lifestyle.
“NZME identified there was a huge opportunity for a lifestyle product that drew on the best bits from a women’s magazine but was available as part of the Herald on Sunday newspaper," says Loates-Haver.
While the title borrows the name of the Herald's entertainment gossip column Spy (which previously featured extensive contributions from Scout's Rachel Glucina), Loates-Haver says the new publication will extend well beyond the remit of entertainment news and industry gossip.
"It will feature entertainment news produced by New Zealand Herald entertainment team, headed by Joanna Hunkin, celebrity news produced by Spy contributor Ricardo Simich, great food content produced by Jo Elwin and her team at Bite, puzzles, and travel content provided by Herald travel editor Winston Aldworth."
In addition to the print version, Loates-Haver says the new publication will be hosted at a standalone site spy.co.nz and also feature in segments on radio (it has already been introduced across NZME radio stations ZM, The Hits, The Mix and Flava). Like its other sub-brands like Viva, Driven and Bite, much of this content will also be pushed out through nzherald.co.nz.
Loates-Haver says the site will feature a wide range of new digital content, including video, galleries, captivating international content, exclusives, including a countdown of New Zealand’s social media power players and a new weekly column by Megan Sellers from ZM plus columns from some of New Zealand’s best-loved personalities.
A new Spy Party section, led by Simich and photographer Norrie Montgomery, will provide coverage of exclusive red carpet as well as an increased volume of celebrity content.
"[Celebrities] shape our world, make us laugh and cry, and set trends," says Simich. "We love them and want an insight into their lives; consequently we want to know what they’re wearing, where they are holidaying and the latest in their careers. Closer to home New Zealand’s growing red carpet and social scene are a fascination to our readers. Norrie and I are here to bring that to life, in fact we’re hugely excited to be part of the new Spy which starts your Sunday and lives throughout the week at Spy.co.nz.”
The online iteration of the publication does have some clear similarities to MediaWorks' scout.co.nz, which was spearheaded by Glucina after her move to NZME's competitor. And much like the MediaWorks publication, Spy will also be providing a short daily wrap of the day's biggest celebrity news across its other media assets via ZM hosts PJ Harding and Cam Mansel.
And while NZME has said the publication will be covering much more than just celebrity news, it will see former co-workers Simich and Glucina going head to head for scoops in this space (put your vacuum away Mr Hosking).
From a broader industry perspective, NZME will likely also face criticism from some quarters given the recent redundancies of several senior journalists. In much the same way that the perception of TV3's news brand suffered when Scout was announced so soon after the departure of John Campbell, you can guarantee that this decision will be met with a few raised eyebrows and cries of dumbing down.