Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2018 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

News from your ISP and power company?

11 October 2017

I think it's fair to say that the news publishing industry has been adversely affected by the power of the Net.

News publishers were once corporate giants. Companies that commanded huge fees for advertising in their rags and during their broadcasts had the ability to turn strong profits year after year.

Until the internet came along.

Now we see virtually all of the major news publishers struggling to find ways to maintain profitability.

What's worse, they're slashing costs in the worst possible ways -- replacing seasoned journalists with interns and swapping in-depth investigative reporting for "newsbites" and relabeled press releases.

The circulation of printed editions is falling like a brick and attempts to generate revenues by way of firewalls on websites seem to have had very limited success.

Is it any wonder therefore, that news publishers are looking to diversify?

However, we must ask ourselves... is it ethical for a news publisher to operate outside of their core business and if they do, what does this mean for readers?

Here in NZ, the best example of a news publisher that is trying to redefine itself and generate profits in a very difficult market is

Just about the only good news Stuff has had in a while would have been the redesign of the NZ Herald website into something that is so god-damned awful that I very rarely even bother with it any more. That means I have changed allegiance from NZH to Stuff for my regular news browsing and that has to mean more ad revenue -- except that I have disabled the outrageous auto-play video ads on Stuff so they've shot themselves in the foot there.

Fighting fires on all fronts, Stuff have obviously decided that when it comes to the Net, perhaps they should take a bob each way when it comes to revenue -- so some time ago they launched Stuff Fibre, a UFB ISP that goes head-to-head with Spark, Orcon and a raft of other players in the NZ marketplace.

Clearly that wasn't enough for Stuff so they have recently announced that they're getting into the power retailing business also, by taking a 49 percent stake in EnergyClubNZ.

Now when a company finds its core business under threat, diversification is generally a sensible option to consider -- however, in the case of a news publisher I think it's a huge no-no.

Nobody worried too much when Fairfax bought TradeMe because, let's be honest, TradeMe is a virtual monopoly so editorial bias on the part of Stuff wasn't going to be too much of an issue due to the lack of competition in the online auction marketplace.

However, when your news publisher also becomes and ISP and a power company, huge questions must be asked about just how objective, impartial and unbiased its reporting will be on matters pertaining to these industries.

I'm sure will give all the assurances under the sun that their editorial policies will remain unaffected by this diversification but, as we all know, perception is the new reality and there will always be a perception that the publisher will favour its own interests.

This move on the part of stuff brings the integrity of the fourth estate into question and I'm surprised that there has been so little outcry from within and outside the news industry.

Perhaps those who say "there is no such thing as news, only marketing" are finally proven correct.

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column

Rank This Aardvark Page


Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines



Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam


Recent Columns

Why EVs might cripple New Zealand
Electric vehicles (EVs) look set to take over from dino-juiced personal transport within the next decade or so...

Is the next-tech beyond hobbyists?
I'm a lucky guy...

Are we overdue for another global pandemic?
It's been almost exactly 100 years since the last global pandemic swept the world and killed millions...

Here come the Johnny Cabs
I'm sure all Aardvark readers have already heard the recorded conversation between a hair-dressing salon receptionist and Google's AI "bot". If not, go search for it and listen...

Here comes the big one?
The mainscream media is at it again...

Fast enough for me
A couple of months ago, I splashed out on a new PC...

Yes, time travel is possible!
Stephen Hawking has invited time travelers to his memorial service...

The most ambitious Mars mission yet?
There have been some pretty impressive attempts to do science on the Red Planet in recent decades and I for one have just loved the results...

A life-changing gift
I read a story in today's Stuff about service stations, and how they rob you blind each time you fill up your car, by selling you confectionery, pies,coffee and other impulse-purchase products at highly inflated prices...

Audiophools on the loose again
Do you remember listening to your first compact audio disk and being appalled by the thinness of the sound, the lack of richness and the clearly audible encoding artifacts?...

Live each day as if it's your last
Last week I went to the doctor...