PMC Multimedia

8 April 2011

VIDEO: Fairfax defends decision to force closure of NZPA

TV3 News on YouTube

Janika ter Ellen

Fairfax has defended its decision to close New Zealand's only news agency, reports 3 News.

The media company is part owner of NZPA with its rival newspaper giant APN, and says the agency does not provide the type of journalism it wants.

But a media commentator says that should not necessarily have meant the end of the service.

The New Zealand Press Association, which started in 1880, is to close by the end of the year, with 40 people set to lose their jobs.

Fairfax Media, the agency's co-owner with APN, says NZPA is not providing what it needs.

"Often those stories aren't investigative, they're not stories carved out by the NZPA," says Paul Thompson.

When NZPA first began it served as a central news collection point, so papers based in Auckland could read about goings-on in, say, Invercargill.

But now, Fairfax and APN own almost all the newspapers in the country - combine that with increased contraction and competition in the media, and Fairfax wants out:

"It is a general news service that's available to a lot of outlets, including our competitors, and what we think we need to do is to drive our own content through our own journalists," says Thompson.

But journalism associate professor and commentator Jim Tully of Canterbury University says "non-exclusive" content is not a bad thing.

"NZPA maintains a presence in Parliament, so that routine coverage of parliamentary debates for example, is something other media have left to NZPA as part of its role. Now, if NZPA doesn't have a presence who is going to maintain that more mundane coverage, if you like," he says.

Tully warns the public and special interest groups within it could be worse off without the solid base NZPA provides. - 3 News/Scoop/Pacific Media Watch

Pacific Media Watch

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