The demise of the Women’s Weekly, Metro, North & South and the Listener et al should come as no surprise.
Furthermore, it had nothing to do with coronavirus, rather it was entirely due to crashing readership affecting all print media.
As I’ve repeatedly written, virtually no-one under 30 has so much as held a newspaper, let alone read one.
All of these publications were anachronisms in today’s digital world, thus their fading readership and resulting diminished advertising value.
There was a time when we lapped up North and South’s articles about a bearded Waimate potter or Metro’s infantile scuttlebutt, trivia and restaurant ratings rubbish. Those days are over, so too with the Listener’s journalism which offered the same fare now provided by daily newspapers in the absence of news. These are still hanging on, but not for much longer.
There’s an ever-present strong market for news which newspapers, beaten to the punch by their electronic rivals immediacy means to survive, they too will be entirely digital in the near future.
Despite the mourning by old hacks and the “gutted” Prime Minister to quote her (dear me!) that sentiment will not be shared by most folk as evidenced by their failure to purchase these yesteryear publications.
Journo Simon Wilson described them as “cultural and community treasures”. That’s nonsense. “Culture,” as I wrote in my comic novel “Degrees For Everyone” is always the desperate fall-back claim by dying activities seeking uneconomic outside survival support in the absence of any other argument.
The magazines’ proprietor, the massive German publishing conglomerate Bauer saw the writing on the wall and made a sensible commercial decision.
Truly exceptional New Zealand journalists such as the Listener’s Donna Chisholm, Pamela Stirling, Jane Clifton, Joanne Black and Paul Thomas, all stars in my eyes, will not be lost.
Instead they’ll be refreshed by a change of scene as they’ll certainly be in demand.
Jane for example, a 4 decades personal friend, is not only an astute political observer but a wonderful comic writer. 15 years ago she wrote “Political Animals”, arguably our funniest ever political book. That didn’t surprise me as I’d urged her for years to abandon journalism for authorship, and specifically to try her hand at a comic novel. She couldn’t miss.
A journalistic memoir from Donna would certainly be a treat, and so it goes.
This collapse is not new. For half a century most New Zealand households bought the Weekly News. Then abruptly circa 1960 they stopped and it folded.
Up until 1980 Truth was by far our top-selling newspaper. The politically charged atmosphere of the 1980s saw our newspapers emboldened and become more outspoken and Truth became redundant.
I’m a life-long print devotee but have come to terms with the new reality.
In its heyday I wrote a weekly political column in Truth but best of all was when I took over the horoscopes. My God I had fun with that.
In the 1980s I was on the cover of the Listener and twice with North & South where for a few years I was its political writer.
They’re fond yesteryear memories but that’s the key point, namely in an ever-changing world they’re yesteryear.
Such is life.