MOST NORFOLK ISLANDERS WANT TO CUT TIES WITH AUSTRALIA AND JOIN NEW ZEALAND

So declared a heading on the Stuff website on Wednesday night thus maintaining its practise of recent years, of grossly inaccurate news headings.

In fact the survey was of roughly quarter of the Island’s population and of that group, far from “most”, the accompanying report revealed a mere 37% of those asked wanted to become part of New Zealand.

The following morning’s Dominion Post account ran the same story, only with the accurate heading, “SOME NORFOLK ISLANDERS WANT TO JOIN NEW ZEALAND”.

This incident is not just an oversight, rather it’s now typical. In a full employment society, funding someone to nurse the website in awkward hours, invariably means a loser, in this case, odds on a fat girl.

Yet it matters for Stuff. Deserted by its Australian owners who are desperate to quit their sunset industry New Zealand fleet of rapid circulation collapsing newspapers, one feels for their senior journalists. Most are competent and approaching retirement, but the plan is to hang on in, eventually substituting a paywall website in lieu of print.

The Herald has been first off the block with this but to date have been up against it with a fairly small take‑up. That’s no surprise. Unlike their newspaper, their paywall website is hopelessly mismanaged.

The Stuff management have tried to fight back by scrubbing their once outstanding provincial newspapers in Christchurch, Invercargill et al and delivering up the Dominion Post with the former titles on the masthead (Christchurch Press, Southland Times, etc) plus a smattering of local news.

Good luck to them. If as is inevitable, newspapers will eventually be replaced by paywall news websites, I fear their audience will be small but worthwhile; worthwhile because it will constitute the cream of society with advertising value. But the vast mass of the hoi polloi, obsessed with their brain‑numbing cell‑phones’ absurdities, offer no potential meaningful market.

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