Heather Roy's Education Freedom of Association amendment act brought an end to compulsory membership to student’s associations at a tertiary level. And while it would be easy to write off the effects of the legislation as minor, the loss of the small payment included with the usual student fees has led to some big changes to Massey's student publications.
Massey University used to produce and distribute one magazine for each campus—Magneto for Wellington, Satellite for Albany and Chaff for Palmerston North. But these A4, full-colour publications are simply no longer tenable given the lack of funding.
Massey has tried to turn this setback around and, with the help of some experienced media campaigners, it will now be letting out one combined magazine called MASSIVE.
Matt Shand, its inaugural editor, says the legislation affected the publications “immensely”, but to have ended them completely would’ve signaled a great loss—and not just to Massey.
“Student media is a vital part of both the university and society and we did not want it to disappear.”
He says it provides “invaluable” experience for students, especially those studying journalism, and “it can push the boundaries that other mainstream media can’t always do".
Yet these magazines are usually run at a huge deficit. So, without the guaranteed income, it needed to become a commercial entity and learn some lessons from the professionals.
The restructuring will go further than just to merge the publications. At the heart of the overhaul will be a separation of editorial, design, and most importantly, advertising. High print and administrative costs will be reduced by the different titles being coalesced under one banner and Shand thinks lowering the cost of advertising in the publication will make it a more viable resource for many advertisers to utilise. Any money raised will be reinvested into the magazine.
To help grease the wheels, a stellar editorial board comprised of representatives from each campus, as well as advertising, design, legal and editorial professionals, has been created. Amoung these are the senior lecturer from the Journalism School and editor-in-chief, Brent Webling, who was former chief sub-editor for The Dominion and latterly communication manager for MP Simon Power.
According to Shand, who's studying a Bachelor of Communication at the Wellington campus and entered this arena as the editor of Magneto, they will provide “practical, industry-trained opinion” to help out the often eager but inexperienced students.
The magazine, which includes 12 change-out pages in each issue to allow for the different campuses to have their own voice, will commence with a circulation of around 7000 but this is set to grow as the audience gets extended to various secondary schools in the campuses’ vicinities. It will also go online on Massey’s extramural website, which delivers to 20,000 students.
Shand says Massey is a University uniquely suited to this kind of publication, with journalism, design, photography, business, and expressive arts schools – plus other departments making “ground-breaking discoveries” that can be reported on.