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Newshub's closure prompts questions around diversity and democracy in news media coverage.

Newshub screenshot


‘We can’t just have white people reporting news’: Pacific reaction to Newshub’s closure

Newshub's closure prompts questions around diversity and democracy in news media, and lessons we can learn from news media in the Pacific.

News of the closure of TV3's Newshub has sent shockwaves throughout media stakeholders in the country, raising questions around diversity and democracy.

Political commentator and former journalism lecturer Richard Pamatatau says having news platforms that reflect a range of views and angles is crucial for a functioning democracy.

“We need that competition, we need people trying to find better stories … and we need diversity of voices reporting them.

“We can’t just have, in many cases, white people reporting news. We need to have a mixture of lenses, of overview, of ways of seeing and interpreting what’s going on.”

Warner Brothers Discovery informed staff yesterday it was planning to shut down newsroom operations from the end of June, citing a collapse of advertising revenue and the economic downturn.

Sunpix Ltd managing director Taualeo'o Stephen Stehlin says it’s a great loss for the industry.


“I was so impressed to see lots of Māori and Pacific people, we had Laura Tupou and Mike McRoberts, and there’s not that many jobs in media."

Taualeo'o has been in the television business for decades, and is confident the industry will continue to adapt.

“I started at TVNZ in 1987, when it was only the one channel and it made mountains of money, since then, we’ve seen audiences run away because people can express themselves on social media.

“[Now], very few young people are watching free-to-air … the days of everybody having a shared experience of a single channel are over, and have been for quite a while."

He says looking at content from other Pacific media could be the next step.

“Young journalists and storytellers will find ways of expressing themselves and hopefully making a living out of it in ways that we can’t probably imagine right now.

“There’s a place for Pacific stories to be told, and perhaps more intimately amongst ourselves, maybe in language shows like PMN does every night, or in these whole channels that are dedicated to different communities that are cost effective, but I’m not sure anybody’s going to make any money out of it.

“All we have to do is look to our Pacific brothers and sisters, we’re lucky we have resources beyond what they have there and they do an amazing job in the islands given their very poor resources.”

Watch Labour deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni on Pacific Mornings:

Political response

Labour deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni says it’s devastating news.

“Particularly those people that are going to lose jobs as a results of this, it’s also really devastating for our democracy.

“It’s really important that we have strong journalism and media in this country, particularly in light of the fact that there’s so much disinformation out there now, and people are bombarded with information from all sources, not all of it is true, but what we've been able to rely on are our TV news sources.”

Speaking to Levi Matautia-Morgan on Pacific Mornings, Sepuloni says the proposed closure should be of concern to the whole country.

“We need reliable sources of information, and whether or not we always agree with the journalists, the reality is that we have a transparent and reliable media and journalism sector in New Zealand.”

Broadcasting Minister Melissa Lee says the closure shouldn’t impact diversity in the news, saying the way people consume media has changed.

“We’re no longer sitting in front of the television box, watching the news at six o’clock, people are consuming media more on their phones, on their iPads, on digital platforms as well as on their computers.”

But Sepuloni accuses Lee of taking a simplistic view.

“[She] seemed to really lack any level of empathy for what’s happened here or any real understanding for the impact on our democracy with Newshub going down.”

Trust in News in Aotearoa New Zealand report 2023.

Looking ahead

A report on public trust in New Zealand’s general media shows 42 per cent trust in news media in 2023, a drop of eleven percent since 2020.

A previous move to merge state-owned broadcasters TVNZ and Radio New Zealand was supported then slashed by the previous Labour government, following questions on cost efficiency and a media monopoly.

Warner Brothers is asking staff for feedback on the proposed closures, but many believe it will have little effect.

Pamatatau says there could be a major investor who swoops in such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos who bought into the Washington Post in 2013, but suggests there could be room for some government action.

“I think what we’re going to see is maybe in the coalition a little bit of interplay between National and its hardline ‘the business must stand on its own two feet’ approach etcetera, and Winston Peters with his experience saying ‘actually no, we do need to have some sort of support for Newshub’.”