Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk
Please visit the sponsor!
There have been long-standing rumours that local news websites were contemplating putting up paywalls and last week those rumours were confirmed.
NZME, the publisher of The NZ Herald, announced they're offering digital subscriptions for premium journalism for just $5 a week.
Is this a new product -- this "premium journalism" because I've seen scant traces of it on their website until now.
Just like most of the other online news purveyors, NZME has jumped on the tabloid, click-bait, infotainment bandwagon and presented us with some totally awful dross in recent years.
Like everyone else they appear to me to be doing little in the way of investigative research and one gets the strong impression that huge swathes of the stories they publish are just reprints from overseas sources or thinly disguised press releases from well-connected PR companies.
Are Kiwis going to pay for that? Hell no!
Another aspect of this paywall and the associated "premium journalism" that is not spelled out is whether those who pay their $5 a week will also be subjected to the ever-increasing levels of advertising that distract and devalue the site.
I bet that paying your money won't exempt you from advertising -- so NZME are going to do a SkyTV and take two bites of the cherry with this paywall. To be honest, although I doubt I'd ever pay for online news, the prospect of "no ads" would be far more alluring than the unfulfilled promise of "premium journalism". Sadly however, I expect that NZME will be charging advertisers a "premium" rate for ads shown to those who have proven that they're suckers and willing to part with their money on a weekly basis.
How would you feel about paying for the privilege of reading pages littered with crappy advertising?
So, in my honest opinion, until NZME actually rediscovers what "journalism" is meant to be, their offer is a joke and only those who have more money than sense will bother lightening their wallets in this way.
The sad reality (for NZME) is that news on the Net is now a commodity and one that really doesn't have much in the way of realisable value. Sure, NZME can ascribe whatever value it wants to such content but that doesn't mean the market will see things the same way.
Of course the regular tabloid dross that NZME (and Stuff) publish will remain "free" but then again, much of the time even this "free" content is just not worth enduring the merciless barrage of advertising that accompanies it.
I have been keeping an eye on NZME's "premium" features in recent times and sadly it seems that they're more about trivia, gossip, personal opinion and personalities than the really important issues of the day. If people are happy to pay for that type of content then fair enough, but my own tastes are such that I don't find these stories to be of interest even when there's no price attached.
To me, "premium journalism" is more about digging deep to get the real facts on issues that are important to everyone. Politics, economics, crime and the like. These are the things where *real* journalists excel and can prove their worth. Sadly, it seems that NZME would rather profile famous people, publish opinion pieces by "celebrities" and talk about social media for their "premium journalism".
But hey, I'm just one person with just one opinion. I have to admit that I could be dead wrong on this one however, it seems that the commenters on this Stuff coverage of the changes tend to agree with me. So how about you (the reader) tell everyone whether you'll be forking out your $260 per year to indulge yourself in what NZME calls "premium journalism".
Good deal or not?
Please visit the sponsor!
Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.