Almost every week the thought arises that this is an incredibly interesting, exciting and also daunting time to be studying journalism.
The week commencing 9th May 2016 is likely to be remembered by journalists in New Zealand for a very long time. In another twist in the complex, uncertain and volatile media landscape the two Australian media titans, Fairfax Media and APN announced they were engaged in discussions with a view to merging their New Zealand media assets (Read & Pullar-Strecker, 2016).
These assets are Fairfax NZ and NZME, a merger of which would result in New Zealand being left with one newspaper group holding an effective monopoly over the newspapers in the large cities, with the Otago Daily Times as the lone independent newspaper.
Loss of advertisng revenue as a result of both digital convergence and multi-platform media configurations is adversely impacting the traditional mass media operating model across the developed world. However, these commercial realities and the frequent media ownership concentration that results have very serious potential implications for the quality of journalism.
Media ownership in New Zealand has been gradually concentrating over the past years, first moving to corporate ownership and then more latterly to financial ownership (Myllylahti, 2011; Myllylahti & Hope, 2013). Nonetheless, given the relatively light media regulation by government, if this move to merger is successful the public will inevitably have less choice and the role of the fourth estate will be at risk of being weakened, at the very time when the worlds of politics and business appear to becoming less and less tranparent.
Myllylahti, M., & Hope, W. (2013). Global capital and media communication ownership in New Zealand. Pacific Journalism Review, 17(2), 188-208.
Myllylahti, M. (2011). The New Zealand Media Ownership Report 2013. Retrieved from http://www.aut.ac.nz/study-at-aut/study-areas/communications/media-networks/journalism,-media-and-democracy-research-centre/journalists-and-projects
Read, E., & Pullar-Strecker, T. (2016, May 11). Fairfax Media, APN confirm merger talks for Fairfax NZ, NZME. Stuff. Retrieved from http:http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79848214/Fairfax-Media-APN-confirm-merger-talks-for-Fairfax-NZ-NZME