17 Apr 2024

'Not a big leap' from publisher to broadcaster, Stuff owner insists

8:43 am on 17 April 2024
The Stuff building in Ponsonby

Photo: RNZ/Marika Khabazi

Stuff's owner insists it's "not a big leap" for the news website and publisher, to transition to delivering a nightly television bulletin.

Stuff and Warner Bros Discovery on Tuesday held a joint press conference to announce a deal had been done in which the website and newspaper and magazine publisher would provide a 6pm news bulletin to replace Newshub, which would close on 5 July.

Former Newshub head of news Mark Jennings said it would be difficult to compete with TVNZ.

He said the Government-owned broadcaster would have more resources and significantly higher production values. Stuff would need to find a fresh angle to stand apart, Jennings said.

"Stuff have been in field shooting with iphones, phones, already and the look of the vision to me is pretty average. I think when that goes on to the 6pm news, it's going to look really inferior to TVNZ.

"[Newshub is] losing share already, and now you're going to put a product on that's not as good as that, how's that going to work."

Stuff CEO Sinead Boucher

Stuff owner and executive chair Sinead Boucher. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

But Boucher told Morning Report her company already had the largest news operation in the country.

"I feel very confident that we are able to develop a really compelling and engaging service for Three's news audience because we already do it every day for our own audience.

"All of our journalists are multimedia journalists, they are already trained to think about and deliver video, audio, text, whatever format the story requires or that they think best. So I don't think that is going to be a big leap at all, we do that everyday, we produce lots of video stories everyday on our own site."

Boucher said there were still several details to be worked out, including what performance measures or ratings Stuff would be required to achieve, how many Newshub staff would be taken on, what will happen to Newshub's website, whether the Newshub name would continue, and exactly what the format, look and tone of the new bulletin would be.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

What was clear was Stuff would have full day-to-day editorial oversight, and the bulletin - an hour on weekdays and half and hour on weekends - would not be simulcast on Stuff.co.nz.

"We will be using lots of the components that are within the bulletin on Stuff through the day, afterwards.

"If you are interested in any of the stories that are in there at any point in the day, you'll be able to access them on Stuff," Boucher said.

She said Stuff was not seeking any external funding to help with set up costs.

Stuff must improve its video game

Former head of news and current affairs at TVNZ Bill Ralston said the move was exciting and would also mean there was more visual content on Stuff.

"I think it's a really exciting development."

However, it would be a difficult transition, he said.

"Stuff will really have to seriously up their act when it comes to what they do in video terms at the moment... they're really going to have to upgrade."

Jennings was less optimistic, pointing out that despite all the talk of innovation they were essentially providing a "cheaper version" of the same linear television hour-long bulletin.

Saving a news archive

Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision has offered to help ensure Newshub's video footage is properly archived.

Its chief executive Honiana Love told First Up it would be a "significant loss" to lose access to the moments captured by the news broadcaster.

"The Newshub collection is a significant an invaluable record representing 35 years of news and historic events in Aotearoa.

"It also will tell a continuum of those stories that you see reflected in other archival institutions so these provide a permanent record of our social history, our interpersonal connections, and our whakapapa."

Love said there were storage challenges with both physical and digital preservation.

"From my understanding of what might be in the collection, we've got a short time to save all this material as well but we do have the technology to do that."

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