Every year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the marketing year that was. Here’s what Sinead Boucher, CEO of Stuff, had to say.
1. What is your favourite local story that isn’t yours?
The investigation into Oranga Tamariki‘s practice of ‘uplifting’ babies from their mothers was broken by Melanie Reid from Newsroom. The story scrutinised the organisation’s practices and often quite brutal approach taken with Māori families in particular. It is hard to call it a favourite when it was such a tough subject matter but I admire the reporting and the impact it had.
2. What is your favourite story that is yours?
There has been so much great work by our journalists this year, but overall I would pick our ongoing commitment to Quick! Save the Planet, Stuff’s excellent work making the climate crisis feel real, tangible and desperately urgent. It’s been so well-received that we’ve decided to recruit a dedicated Climate Editor and specialist reporting staff for 2020.
3. What is your favourite international story?
Greta Thunberg’s powerful address at the opening of the Climate Action Summit really captured the attention of the media and the public. Her demands for the older generations to think about the world they want their children to inherit came at the perfect time and I applaud her courage and bravery.
4. What is your least favourite story?
The terror attacks on the Christchurch mosques in March was obviously the darkest of times for us as a country, although I was very proud of how New Zealanders responded with such a clear rejection of hate. The current measles epidemic in Samoa, which has decimated a generation of children. This is a tragedy on an epic scale for Samoa, and the worst part is it was totally preventable.
5. What is your own biggest success in 2019?
Professionally, I am taking it as a success that this year our journalists have produced some of the best work I have ever seen in my career. My job is to ensure we have the kind of environment where they can do that important work and I do feel a sense of vicarious accomplishment when I see the incredible, important work they have done and the direct impact it has had. That kind of work is such a critical part of a healthy democracy and is what sets us apart from the social platforms which don’t share our ethical foundations. On a personal note, I am ending the year proud of small accomplishments like being a bit fitter than I was, feeling content and happy to be in a position where I can commit time, not just money, to things I want to contribute to.
6. For you, what is the most significant launch/innovation/thing of the year?
The consumption of video online is just exploding and we wanted to make sure we were riding that wave as a business. So this year we launched Play Stuff which is a new home for news, sport, lifestyle and entertainment content from Stuff as well as a huge array of content partners. Play Stuff has opened up an exciting new revenue stream for our business, offering new opportunities for advertisers and new ways for consumers to watch.
7. What should be un-invented?
At this time of the year I really wish no one had invented scorched almonds so I wouldn’t feel so compelled to scoff every box I see. Apart from that, I really wish we could un-invent some of the big international political votes of 2016, which are still dominating headlines now…Brexit, US elections.
8. What do you think is the lamest trend?
9. What are your best brands?
Where to start! Stuff and Neighbourly are our two major platforms, which have given us the chance to broaden our ambitions beyond publishing. Stuff is not just the home of our news and entertainment content, but also that of many other New Zealand media companies. Neighbourly is just going from strength to strength as a local social network. It will end the year at close to 800k members and is closing in on being used in a third of NZ homes. I also think Naomi Larkin has done a truly wonderful job with NZ House and Garden, while our fantastic metropolitan and regional mastheads keep doing a wonderful job for their communities.
10. Best stoush for you this year?
I don’t know if it qualifies as a stoush so much as laughing in the face of adversity, but I loved the story of Josh Thompson, who brought a clown as his support person to his redundancy meeting.
11. Who are the Heroes?
The young people around the world who have shamed the rest of us with their energy and focus on saving the planet. Greta Thunberg obviously, but all of the other young people who have got up off the couch and actively done something – whether it is protest on the streets, or go into local or national politics – instead of just tweeting up a storm. I find them so inspiring.
12. Who are the Villains?
The politicians and leaders who not only haven’t listened to those young people, but who have actively derided, mocked and jeered at them. They look so out of touch and irrelevant to what matters to people. Sadly, too many of them still hold the reins of power.
13. What died in 2019?
Facebook’s credibility as a safe community. The way the video of the Christchurch mosque attacks was spread around the globe without accountability is just another example of why these channels need to be regulated.
14. What’s the biggest mistake journalists will make in 2020?
I think the hardest thing for journalists is going to be navigating the onslaught of misinformation that will precede the general election. New Zealand is not immune to false information, particularly when it comes through channels like social media which are totally unregulated. Politicians can advertise and say whatever they like in these channels and there is no accountability. That’s why journalism plays such a vital role in upholding democracy – it’s our role to uncover the facts and hold the powerful to account.
15: If there were no laws for 24 hours, what would you do?
Probably barricade the doors and hide under the duvet.
So, laws are okay with me – especially the ones we can bend a bit when the need arises.