Changes at Kowhai: Pro Photographer folds, Frankham steps down as NZ Geographic editor

There’s a changing of the guard at Kowhai Media as long-time editor of New Zealand Geographic James Frankham steps down and deputy editor Rebekah White takes over.

Frankham, who founded Kowhai Media, will stay on as the magazine’s publisher and photo editor and will continue to collaborate closely with the New Zealand Geographic team. 

White joined Kowhai Media in 2014 after spending more than two years as deputy editor of Good magazine. 

The move also coincides with Kowhai Media’s decision to discontinue Pro Photographer magazine.

The bi-monthly magazine and online platform which first launched in 2013 catered toward those in the photography business and was edited by White.

“The photography industry has been declining around the world over the last few years and I think that because of New Zealand’s size, it maybe happened a little bit faster than elsewhere,” she says. 

Now in her new role as editor of New Zealand Geographic, White says one of the things she’s keen to do is help change how the magazine is perceived among the general public. 

“A lot of people look at New Zealand Geographic as a magazine that’s full of stories about wildlife,” says White. “You turn to us for stories about kakapo or penguins, but over the last couple of years under James, we’ve published some quite long investigative features on social issues like homelessness, meth addiction, population growth or where our rubbish and recycling goes.”

“I don’t think the magazine really gets the credit for doing that work, so I’m keen to not only continue doing that, but make sure people know that New Zealand Geographic is somewhere you can turn to for those types of investigations as well as those stories about birds, places and landscapes” she says. 

As one of the country’s leading publications when it comes to innovation in the digital sphere, (subscriptions were up 9.6% year-on-year, retail up 4% and ad sales up 5% with digital subscriptions on top of that), White insists she’ll continue making the most of the magazine’s online archive in order to attract more non-traditional readers to its website.

“We’re able to get a lot more cut through now that we’ve got out massive online archive up and running which is really helpful because we’re able to send out individual stories online and attract readers that might not necessarily pick up a magazine that has a baby kiwi on the cover.’

“Now that we have the website available, we find that individual stories can get traction and bring people in. There was one story that went around the internet last week and it was a feature from a few years ago on volunteer firefighters, which was a really lovely feature that was buried in the archives. But we sent it out in conjunction with the fires in Port Hills so people could read about the people who perform this great public service. It was picked up pretty rapidly and people seemed to enjoy having something interesting and relevant to read on,” she says.

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