Sign of the times

In August this year, The Waiuku & Districts Post (the original title) would have been serving the community for 26 years, having begun publication on 18 August 1992.

To me, that’s a mighty long time, however I often wonder if we would be missed if we closed our doors? Would we just drift off into the shadows and become a long lost memory, a museum piece, even after having been around for a quarter of a century?

The sad reality of that question is—PROBABLY. With the change in media over the last couple of years, more and more pressure is being placed on news organisations. With the advancement of Facebook and other social media avenues, local media are finding themselves no longer competitive. Why place an advert in your local paper when you can just put a flyer onto social media for free?

As a newspaper dealing with this new ‘D.I.Y media’ world, we find that we are constantly having to re-invent ourselves to remain relevant and operative. The Post has made many changes over the past years, some which have been to the displeasure of the community, but, even a “Free” newspaper has costs and those are quite substantial. Like many other Mum and Dad businesses in our community, we will not be making the Forbes 100 list anytime soon.

One of our most recent changes has been to pull back from our rural distribution. This means that we have gone from printing 26,000 copies a week to just over 20, 000 a week. Why? Simply to remain relevant, operative and hopefully still be around to see in another 26 years in the ever evolving D.I.Y media arena. This decision was not taken lightly and is still open for debate.

Fortunately we do have drop off points where you are able to collect a copy of the paper or read it online. Who knows, perhaps our next step is to hot-desk. Even an organisation as large as Auckland Council are adopting hot desking—it’s just a sign of the times. So, before we are critical of what a genuine and hard working business is doing, perhaps we should just take the time to understand.

Look at Fairfax for example, they might be doing brilliantly on the digital platform of neighbourly but some of their print products are no longer viable and as a result are being shut down. You wonder how many years those Mastheads have served their community, only to be sent into an archive, museum or random dusty shelf?
Perhaps I am fooled into believing that print is not dead. I see so many people young and old, delighted and excited to see themselves in print. This gives me hope, especially when it is the younger generation. They are our future and if they still embrace print, then how could it possibly die? Nothing can ever replace a paper in your hand, that can be folded and put away as a keepsake. It is a long lasting memory, a historical record.

I heard the other day that some containers were stolen out Port Waikato way. Nobody can remember where they saw it or on what group, so I really don’t know what people are talking about. We could put a story out, hold people to account, be the voice of the community, but how can we if we are unable to find it? How would we even begin to look it up in years to come? Not much of a historical record if you can’t find it.

All I can say is ‘good luck’ trying to find any story that was put onto some group at some point on Facebook. Which group was it put onto again and when exactly? I sure hope you manage to find it and put it away as a keepsake. You might need to print it out—which brings me back to my point that print is not dead!

Old fashioned media like a newspapers, work hard to keep you informed, are answerable to the community they serve, and are held accountable to the Press Council and Advertising Standards authority to name but a few. Who else can tell your story when you have reached the end of your road? Who else is prepared to place their name on the line when you have nowhere else to go?

Where else will you be able to reference historical information?
The quick answer: definitely not social media.

“A newspaper has two sides to it. It is a business, like any other, and has to pay in the material sense in order to live. But it is much more than a business, it is an institution; it reflects and it influences the life of the community … it has, therefore a moral as well as a material existence, and its character and influence are in the main determined by these two forces.”
Manchester Guardian Editor, CP Scott.

P.S. A heartfelt and grateful thank you to all our advertisers and readers who have supported us and have helped mould us into what we are today.

Since you’re here… we have a small favour to ask. More and more people want the Post than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Post’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. With investigative reporting, we often don't know at the beginning how a story will unfold and how long it might take to uncover. This can mean it is costly – particularly as we often face legal threats that attempt to stop our reporting. But we remain committed to raising important questions and exposing wrongdoing. And we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as NZ$5, you can support the Post – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Post

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