Heather du Plessis-Allan: Covid-19 is hastening the death of media

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Apr 2020, 4:25PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Covid-19 is hastening the death of media

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Apr 2020, 4:25PM

It’s an end of an era, isn’t it?

It is gutting to say goodbye to some good Kiwi magazines. The Listener, around since 1939. Woman’s Weekly, since 1932. Metro since the 80s

And gutting also for all those staff involved.

But as sad as this, here’s the thing we need to understand.

The Government’s response to Covid-19 isn’t totally responsible for killing off these magazines; it’s really responsible for speeding up that death.

That’s probably why the magazine’s owner Bauer didn’t take up the government’s wage subsidy scheme. What’s the point in trying to save the business during this lockdown, if you know you can’t save it afterwards?

Magazines have been a dying thing for a long time. Too many of us have given up having The Listener delivered, too many of us don’t buy Metro when we’re at the supermarket.

We get our content online nowadays, and for long enough we’ve said businesses like this need to adapt or die

Bauer didn’t adapt fast enough. It has a website but it’s hardly a destination in the same way Facebook or Twitter is for so many people

So things were already not looking flash, and then it got the double whammy during this lockdown.  Advertising revenue’s down, and, in a weird decision, magazines won’t be allowed in supermarkets.

And the problems got a lot bigger and Bauer pulled the pin on the magazines it owned.

Yes, we can ask a few questions here:

  • Did the government even try to help save these iconic magazines?
  • Why are magazines not allowed in supermarkets anymore when the PM said everything that a supermarket sells is essential?
  • Does the government need a plan to save media?

Because media is extremely vulnerable. RadioSport is gone. Mediaworks is asking staff to take pay cuts. Newspapers are cutting paid columnists.

There’s a good chance these changes would’ve happened at some stage, Covid-19’s just hastened it.