Lagging on digital is best for NZ

Summary:New Zealand often frets about "lagging behind" Australia. But when your media is about to jump off a huge online cliff, "lagging behind" is perhaps the best place for us Kiwis to be.

New Zealand often frets about "lagging behind" Australia. But when your media is about to jump off a huge online cliff, "lagging behind" is perhaps the best place for us Kiwis to be.

Last week's announcements of 1900 job losses at Fairfax and unknown job losses at News Limited in Australia, certainly attracted attention over here.

But Fairfax New Zealand has made it clear that operations on our side of the Tasman are unaffected by moves in Australia towards a digital and tabloid age. CEO Allen Williams said that Fairfax Australia was slashing jobs and going tabloid because Australians were shifting from print to online faster than Kiwis.

Of course, even NZ media outlets have their websites, and one of them, the National Business Review, already has a paywall, tackling the problem that people expect news and other content to be free on the internet, savaging print circulations. Prints problems are exacerbated with advertising's "rivers of gold" also shifting from print to online.

I work for the National Business Review, and while I don't have any figures, my boss says the business is profitable and the paywall is working. All the same, the message is often drummed into us to make our stories so good that they are worth paying for; that you try and deliver something readers would not get for free elsewhere. That's how the National Business Review plans to survive and prosper.

It may be that, one day, there will be no print edition of the National Business Review, no printed New Zealand Herald, and so on, as they are replaced by online titles, which are spared the costs and hassles of printing, subscriptions and distribution.

Adjusting to the online challenge certainly won't be easy. We have just seen the casualties in Australia, which add to the turmoil of the media in the UK and the US, which are grappling with the same problems. Their solution includes making current daily papers come out less often, as they focus more on websites.

But we're not quite there yet, in New Zealand. Last week, a report said the same thing that Williams did: New Zealand is "lagging behind" Australia in online development, citing our broadband as a factor.

But, as I said earlier, "lagging behind" is perhaps the best place for us Kiwis to be. We can watch how Australian media responds to the online revolution to come, and learn from it.

Topics: E-Commerce, Enterprise 2.0

About

Darren Greenwood has been in journalism, not all of it IT, since the days of typewriters and long before the web spun its way around the world.Coming from Yorkshire, he can be blunt, and though having resided in New Zealand, as well as Australia, for quite some time, he insists he is not one of the 'sheeple!'

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.