29 Feb 2024

Newshub journalist Michael Morrah says proposal will be made to save axed news operation

9:34 pm on 29 February 2024
Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah reporting on the impending demise of his own news organisation on Newshub at 6.

Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah reporting on the impending demise of his own news organisation on Newshub at 6. Photo: screenshot / Newshub at 6

Newshub's investigations correspondent says staff are planning to put forward a counter proposal to save the outlet's news operation.

Hundreds of staff were told at an emergency meeting on Wednesday their jobs would be gone by the end of June.

The proposal for the closure is under consultation over the next two weeks.

Michael Morrah said he and his colleagues will put forward a counter proposal to what's on the table.

"We think it's worthwhile having a crack at coming up with a counter proposal to keep the news operation functioning in some form," he said.

"We feel that this is an opportunity to provide feedback, management have said they will listen, and we feel it's worthwhile doing rather than just throwing up our hands."

Morrah said they were yet to discuss what a counter proposal would look like.

"The main concern here is to come up with some form of proposal and counter offer to save some part of the news organisation," he said.

"I don't know what that will look like, and it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on that now before I've spoken with my colleagues, but the general feeling among 6pm reporters who I've spoken to today is that they are keen to put something forward."

Earlier today Newsroom co-founder and former head of TV3 news Mark Jennings told Morning Report the key to Newshub's survival lay with its current owners.

He said staff should pitch massive cost cuts - including reducing the 6pm bulletin to 30 minutes with one presenter and getting rid of foreign correspondents.

Newshub is owned by global entertainment giant Warner Bros Discovery which also owns eden, Rush, HGTV and Bravo.

Under the owner's proposal, the multiplatform news operations and output will close, meaning all news production - including the Newshub website - would stop from 30 June.

The proposed new model includes a transition to a "digitally led business".

Morrah said it had been an extremely tough week.

Michael Morrah after the meeting. Photo: RNZ/Marika Khabazi

"It's finally sort of starting to sink in, the gravity of the announcement," he said.

"People are wondering about redundancy payouts and what's going to come next.

"It's been an extremely stressful and sad time for everyone in the newsroom, and a huge blow to New Zealand and democracy."

Morrah said he was thinking about all his Newshub colleagues during this time.

"We're dedicated, we're passionate about news, we believe in journalism, and we will continue to put out evening bulletins until we're told we're not allowed to anymore," Morrah said.

Staff react to the shock announcement. Photo: RNZ/Marika Khabazi

He was especially concerned for the company's younger staff.

"My concern is less about myself but more about some of our younger colleagues in the newsroom, who are just sort of hitting their straps in journalism and now are facing having the rug pulled out from under them, and financial worry."

Up to 300 people could lose their jobs.

The consultation process runs until mid-March.

A final decision is expected early April after feedback has been considered.

The company made a $34.8 million loss in New Zealand for the 2022 financial year.

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