National | Newshub

Newshub’s closure means fewer voices

Shutting down one of Aotearoa’s leading newsrooms means less opportunity for stories to reach those who need them.

Newshub, a household name in New Zealand’s news media scene, is to close its newsroom doors on June 30.

Taking many by surprise, this significant shift in the country’s media landscape will leave dozens of staff out of work and one less outlet for news to make its way to the public.

The closure was announced in a staff meeting. One current staff member, who did not want to named, believes the closure of Newshub was a long time coming, saying “It has been getting gradually more stressful over the past several months as staff left in droves, on top of WarnerBros Discovery’s ridiculous hiring freezes.”

“The business has clearly been going downhill since WarnerBros merged with Discovery.”

“I don’t think it’s a big surprise at all to any staff who are still working there.”

The announcement has sparked a wave of reactions, from shock and sadness to concern over what this means for news diversity and quality in New Zealand, with support for Newshub’s staff and the importance of having a variety of news sources.

‘High-quality journalism’

Leaving the staff meeting, well respected news anchor, Mike McRoberts (Ngāti Kahungunu) told the NZ Herald :“We are a pretty good newsroom, if we can’t make it work, who can?”

Former Māori affairs reporter for Newshub, Te Rina Kowhai says “I was so shocked to hear the news today that Newshub is set to close.”

“My former colleagues and friends there are extremely hardworking and for a small team produced high-quality journalism.”

“I’ve started reaching out to [old colleagues] to send my aroha, and know they’ll be absolutely devastated. There are so many brilliant talented journalists and producers, it’s a sad day for journalism in Aotearoa.”

“The fact that there is going to be one less news service means less voices for the plurality in NZ media,” she says.

Newshub has long been known for its quality news reporting and staff consistently talk of the camaraderie the newsroom has created. “I loved my time at Newshub and was able to champion a lot of Māori kaupapa and issues to the channel,” Kowhai says.

“The Public Journalism Fund is what helped sustain my role and, with that, I was also able to help train the new breed of journalists - Te Rito cadets bringing more diversity in to newsrooms.”

Lois Birkett leads the Te Rito journalism project, a partnership program between NZME, Whakaata Māori, Newshub and Pacific Media Network, set up to train young journalists and reflect a diverse Aotearoa.

“Today’s announcement is a heart-breaking development in Aotearoa’s news media environment,” says Birkett. “Newshub is a valued Te Rito Journalism Cadetship partner. It has been committed to developing and training the next generation of aspiring Māori, Pasifika, and ethnic journalists on the programme. “They’ve employed te Rito cadets, they have been awesome in providing valuable work placements and giving real-world newsroom experiences that you can’t teach in a classroom. It’s a sad day for Aotearoa journalism.”

‘Devastating for New Zealand’

Many industry experts have expressed concern over the announcement and what it means for the future of journalism.

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson says the news is devastating “both for those hardworking journalists and content creators who will be directly impacted, but also for New Zealand society.

“The role that a diverse media plays in a healthy functioning society and democracy should not be underestimated. We all benefit from having local media that is strong, telling the stories of New Zealanders.”

Media commentator, Duncan Grieve told RNZ’s Midday Report this news had profound implications for the whole media landscape. “There’s flow-on impacts to the kind of programming we’ll see on our TVs, to the plurality of voices in our media and this is the kind of big bang people were fearing within media but hadn’t come to pass until today.

Broadcasting Minister Melissa Lee said she’d spoken with Glen Kyne, Warner Bros. Discovery NZ boss who had informed her the announcement was on its way. She said “There was nothing that could’ve actually helped, and that this is the result of a failure in advertising.

She said Kyne had informed her that The Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill - which would compel social media companies to pay for the news content it used - wouldn’t have made a “single bit of difference”.

Former Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson said pressures on media companies were huge and innovative ways of supporting media were needed

“[Newshub] certainly made their impact and stamped their mark in terms of media and news in this country. It’s a shock for everyone.”

He said in his time as Minister, Newshub’s owners briefed him saying things were not going well, but had not asked for funding.

“I didn’t expect them to be announcing things were closing a few months later.”

A legacy lost

Warner Bros Discovery bought TV3 from Mediaworks in 2020, including the news arm. But like many traditional news outlets, it’s been hit hard by financial challenges and changes in how people get their news. Last August, Warner Bros Discovery dropped AM Early and Newshub Live at 11am, then in October, announced the cancellation of it’s 7pm current affairs show, The Project.

The new show that was expected to replace The Project, hosted by former AM Show present Ryan Bridge, has yet to begin.

The closure of the newsroom is part of a larger trend where news organizations are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced changes in technology and viewer preferences.

Warner Bros Discovery has not revealed any plans for the employees who will be affected by the closure. However, there’s a strong sense of community within the media industry, with many calling for support for the soon-to-be jobless journalists.