Well like many people during these strange and surreal times, I lost a job yesterday.
I was a columnist for Bauer Media for almost a decade, and yesterday Bauer Media closed its doors.
This is a tough time for many, and the media’s not exempt.
In fact the media is one of the industry’s really struggling right now because unless you’re part of the state owned government run media, most of your revenue relies on advertising dollars. And when retailers and other businesses are in trouble, and unable to operate, then one of the first things they cut is their advertising budget. An easy decision to make when there’s nothing to advertise.
So the knock on effect for media is substantial.
And though it cops a lot of criticism, here’s the thing about people working in the media, they work really hard.
Often on the smell of an oily rag, they work long hours, they put everything into their product.
The teams I worked with at Bauer worked their butts off, often under very trying circumstances.
The closure of the business for the lockdown, given it was deemed by the government to be ‘non-essential’ was a gutting, fatal blow. As a fellow columnist pointed out, it’s a shame the government chose booze and tobacco over magazines.
Magazines offer light relief, entertainment, and in the case of North and South, Metro and The Listener, in depth compelling investigative or long form journalism. That’s a sad loss for our country.
As one commentator said, it’s a ‘cultural voice now lost’.
For those living rurally or alone, picking up a copy of their local mag was something to look forward to.
‘Bauer produced titles that really understood New Zealanders,’ a former editor said.
Another commentator pointed out that, ‘"these magazines were cultural trackers for the ways in which we looked at ourselves and reflected on our society.’
So now we are without them, and whether you read them or not, liked them or not, the point is, the fourth estate is a vital part of any democracy.
Former Listener editor Finlay McDonald said, given we are “now in a state of Government-imposed lockdown, when all kinds of democratic and constitutional assumptions are being tested.. we need the media more than ever."
So we end week one of the lockdown with Radio Sport cancelled and more job losses looming for NZME, Mediaworks staff being asked to take a 15% paycut, Bauer Media closed.
And this is just one industry, and it's just week one.