Stuff to cut 28 newspapers and magazines nationwide

5:35 pm on 21 February 2018

Media giant Stuff, previously known as Fairfax, has announced plans to ditch 28 of its community, rural newspapers and magazines.

The Commerce Commission has declined a merger which would have created New Zealand’s biggest news media company
Fairfax Media NZ,, 
NZME, NZ Herald.

Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

The publications include the Kaikoura Star, the Hastings Mail, the Queenstown Mirror and NZ Dairy Farmer.

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher said the change was a sign of the revenue challenges affecting print publications, and was part of a strategy to increase the digital side of the business.

"Changing the print portfolio has involved some tough decisions, but it is clear where the future of the business lies. The Stuff business is delivering strong digital revenue growth, benefiting from the growth of our new business ventures," she said in a statement.

Mrs Boucher said readers would still be served by the Stuff and Neighbourly websites.

She said about 60 jobs would be affected, but exact job losses have not yet been confirmed and the company would be talking with staff in the next few weeks.

She said she was hopeful some of the publications would find new owners.

"We already had some expressions of interest for various titles before this announcement, and as a result of today's announcement, there have been a few more.

Some of the newspapers are the only dedicated publications for towns like Balclutha and Kaikoura.

The mayor of the Clutha District said locals were devastated by news that the Clutha Leader community paper was in line for closure.

Bryan Cadogan said it was a backwards step.

"We're devastated, they've played a critical role in social and community cohesion for a lifetime. It's almost inconceivable. The flow-on effect of not having our community newspaper is quite devastating."

Mr Cadogan said the Clutha Leader played an important role in keeping the community up-to-date about what was going on.

"How do people know what's happening in their communities? You have an event, you've got no way to promote it, it's a serious step backwards."

The former chief executive of the Newspaper Publishers Association, Tim Pankhurst, said while today's decision was predictable, it was sad.

"These publications play a really important part in the social fabric, this is where you find out why your street is being dug up, what your local councillor is saying, what community events are on."

It was time locals took back ownership of their local papers, as has happened with the Wairarapa Times-Age, Mr Pankhurst said.

"One of the worst things to happen to New Zealand print ownership was for control to be vested in Fairfax, now Stuff, in Sydney. They don't care about what happens in the New Zealand market."

Journalist Kris Dando spent more than a decade working for community newspapers.

He said people wanted to know about what's going on in their neighbourhoods.

"Some people just don't care about what's happening in parliament or overseas or some of the big national issues, they like to know what's happening in their neighbourhood, two streets away, what are some of the burning issues in their schools, or on the sportsground."

The full list of titles being closed is:

Avenues, Waikato Farmer, Admire Marlborough, NZ Dairy Farmer, Discover Magazine, Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook, Admire Nelson, Hastings Mail, Christchurch Mail, Napier Mail, The Tribune, Kaikoura Star, Invercargill Eye, Auto Xtra, South Canterbury Herald, Clutha Leader, Waiheke Marketplace, NewsLink, Wairarapa News, Queenstown Mirror, NZ Farmer, Waitaki Herald, Canterbury Farmer, North Waikato News, Central District Farmer, Rotorua Review, Otago Southland Farmer, Ruapehu Press

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