A fortnight ago, journalists around the globe celebrated the power of the Fourth Estate and the importance of fact-based journalism. On both World News Day in North America, and World Press Freedom Day on the other side of the Atlantic, the role of free and independent media was acknowledged as being more important than ever.
In the face of fake news, curbs on press freedoms, social media giants and the squeeze on print budgets, the headlines marking World News Day reflected a thriving spirit of investigative journalism in pursuit of the truth. The simple hashtag #NewsMatters captured the mood.
To mark World News Day, media outlets across the world featured stories, both recent and from the archives, that best showcase the importance of quality journalism – their most impactful reporting that, in many cases, has changed lives. Stuff featured two of our long term print investigations, the 2013 kidnapping of nurse Louisa Akavi and the #MeToo movement emerging in New Zealand. Both stories illustrate the need for detailed reporting, tenacious investigation and a commitment to producing compelling content. This year we’ve probed into the dealings of both Shane Jones and Lianne Dalziel, calling out conflicts of interest and holding our elected representatives to account.
Globally, media organisations are grappling with changing habits of news consumption, and the implications on the viability of their business models. The strategies for survival vary – implementing paywalls and subscriptions, encouraging donations, and securing the support of wealthy benefactors. While many industry commentators suggest it’s only a matter of time before print becomes obsolete, I’d humbly suggest it’s not an all or nothing scenario.
The fact of The Guardian breaking even earlier this month, after decades of losses, demonstrates that print remains a critical medium, with a viable place in a suite of complementary advertising products. The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner says the secret to its success was its trusted relationship with its readers.
Over the last three years, more than a million people have provided financial support to The Guardian, which together with changes in printing technology and a drive for sustainability, enabled it to complete a much-needed turnaround. The company’s chief executive says people value The Guardian print version, and as long as that remains the case, it will continue to be printed.
It’s abundantly clear that Kiwis, from Bluff to Kataia, also value print. It’s an alternative medium to digital that consumers continue to trust - it’s authentic and memorable. And, what’s more, smart marketers are starting to recognise the value it continues to provide in terms of the suite of options they have available to them.
Today, more so than ever, it’s vital we recognise and celebrate quality journalism, and indeed the role print plays in bringing that to life. This month’s Voyager Media Awards provide the ideal opportunity to showcase excellence in New Zealand journalism and the importance of high-calibre and accurate reporting. Stuff is proud to have received a total of 84 nominations, with each of our major metropolitan print titles named as finalists for every newspaper award.
#NewsMatters, and high-quality journalism remains at the heart of what Stuff does. Regardless of the changing media environment, we have a responsibility to continue to provide quality publications and fulfil our role as independent monitors of power.