31 Aug 2011

Closure of NZPA end of an era

5:01 pm on 31 August 2011

After 131 years of supplying stories to newspapers, the New Zealand Press Association has closed.

New Zealand's only independent news agency has been winding up operations over the past few months after a decision in April that it was no longer viable. It closed at 4pm on Wednesday.

The company had struggled in recent years as media ownership and distribution in New Zealand changed.

Forty-two journalists will lose their jobs with the closure of offices in Wellington, Auckland and Sydney.

Editor Kevin Norquay says most have found jobs with other media companies or news agencies, including Fairfax, APN and the AAP news agency. About five people are currently without jobs.

Mr Norquay says NZPA staff are adept at filing rapid stories quickly and accurately - a trait which will be hugely valuable in the digital age, but says that is also what is largely responsible for the agency's demise.

He says NZPA will be remembered for its outstanding writers and newshounds who worked on big news stories such as the Wahine and Erebus disasters.

NZPA was set up in 1879 and was the country's only independent newspaper agency. It was owned by daily newspaper publishers and supplied the 26 daily newspapers with a 24-hour national and international news service and news images.

All the papers paid a subscription, based on their circulation, to share news.

The Australian Fairfax and APN media companies now own all but five of New Zealand's daily newspapers. They operate their own systems.