Nominees: NZ Geographic, Mindfood, Miss FQ, The Spinoff, Idealog, Homestyle
Bauer added Paperboy to its portfolio in the past year, which was a brave move considering it’s a free print product in a digitally focused world. Led by former Home editor Jeremy Hansen, the weekly publication touts itself as a magazine for Auckland’s urban adventurers and is fittingly distributed around the city’s transport hubs and cafes every Thursday morning.
With its daring approach, high-quality writing, urban photography and additional lifestyle content from The New York Times, Paperboy has thrived as a mass media product targeting the lucrative demographic of well-educated, high-income Aucklanders in their 30s. It’s broadened what Bauer’s flagship monthly, Metro, does best while avoiding eating into the audience of its other weekly publication, The Listener. It also sets itself apart from NZME’s weekly publications Canvas and Viva which also cover Paperboy’s four pillars of urbanism, food, culture and style, but boasts an older readership.
While Paperboy’s not the only magazine in the category to be introduced in the last year (Miss FQ picked up the audience Cleo left behind when it was closed down in 2016, while Idealog underwent a makeover to become three topic-focused issues a year), Paperboy stands out from the crowd and serves as a reminder that print still has a place in a modern city increasingly dominated by glowing rectangles.
People's Choice Award
It was a close call between the print-focused Paperboy and the digital-only The Spinoff, with the former collecting a 30.5 percent share of the vote while the latter recorded a 29.5 percent share. McHugh Media’s MindFood, which will be celebrating ten years in the business next year, took out third place with 11.3 percent.
Nominees: Miriyana Alexander (The Weekend Herald/Herald on Sunday), Jeremy Hansen (Paperboy), Shelley Ferguson (Your Home and Garden/Nadia/Taste)
Since founding The Spinoff in 2014, Duncan Greive has watched it grow into a popular and entertaining source of socioeconomic, political and pop culture commentary. This, combined with the fact he’s not afraid to stick a brand alongside that content, is why he’s the year’s Hottest Editor.
When Greive tweeted about The Spinoff ’s record 973,797 visitors in April, he celebrated his amazing staff and brilliant contributors just as much as he did the numbers. And this sentiment carries over as we chat about his win, with Greive commending his team for embracing both the editorial and sponsored elements of the site—the latter of which Greive believes has been particularly important to the venture’s success.
Visit the site and you’ll see a fair share of its work is “brought to you by” one of its sponsors, including Spark, Lightbox, AUT and Flick Electric. It’s a media platform as well as a content agency, Greive says, and it’s a financial model he established quickly when starting it in 2014.
“I do think that this is the future for journalism unless you’re going to rely on government funding or philanthropy. Selling your ability to create content people want to read is really critical.”
Brands are catching onto that role of media companies and those that work with The Spinoff understand that while there’s a certain degree of briefing involved, they need to trust the team because they’re not going to write: ‘Hey, this is a great brand and here’s why...'
Instead, it takes a more sophisticated approach and Greive gives the example of a recent series he launched with Garage Project, in which The Spinoff team sit down and share a beer and conversation with fascinating New Zealanders.
“Increasingly that’s what we’re seeing the smart brands doing. You can talk about your brand sometimes, but being there as a facilitator of something worthwhile is a much better place to sit,” Greive says.
But that doesn’t come without its own challenges, and with such a plurality of clients, it’s almost on a weekly basis that The Spinoff publishes something a partner might not agree with.
“That’s going to be life,” Greive says, and admits the team will call clients and give them a heads up if there’s potentially conflict. But looking beyond The Spinoff he says if the story warrants it, people take the hit and if they want to leave, it creates an opportunity for another client to step in.
“If we were just seen as toothless, no one would consume what we create,” he says.
Feeding The Spinoff ’s never-ending tubes with content and keeping its sponsors happy is not a task to be taken lightly, but Greive assures us he’s “not a fire-breathing” editor. He says his writers have autonomy, with the majority of the pieces created coming from them and he encourages the younger and older staff to talk to each other to shape the angles and subjects.
“I do have a vision for the site, and business more broadly, but I’ve worked with editors who operate in that [fire-breathing] style before and I found it bred in me a fearfulness when what I want from our writers is more fearlessness.”
The approach no doubt helps to inject character into the tone of the site’s writing, videos and podcasts, and Greive says it aims to be funny where appropriate, serious when it’s not and “ideally a bit of both”.
“It’s about us trying to create something and take what we’ve loved about magazines and feature writing and criticism and commentary from the old environments of print and so on but take advantage of the infinite possibilities of an online environment to create something that feels new.”
People's Choice Award
While Greive’s steady hand at the helm of The Spinoff clearly lands him at the top spot, the battle for second place was a Bauer showdown. Your Home and Garden and Nadia’s Shelley Ferguson pipped Paperboy’s Jeremy Hansen in a photo finish, with Ferguson getting 24.8 percent and Hansen getting 24.5.
We'll be posting the rest of the Hot List over the next week. Stay tuned for the radio results tomorrow.
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