NZME locks in new newsroom model

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NZME has confirmed plans for its new, “world-class” newsroom operation, offering audiences access to “even better journalism and content”.

Journalists from the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, NZME news agency, Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport will relocate to the purpose-built media hub in central Auckland in December, the next phase in meeting the needs of a rapidly growing digital, particularly mobile, audience.

The newsroom, with over 280 people, will offer a unique mix of journalistic and content platforms, including a multi-purpose video studio and state-of-the-art Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport production studios.

NZME managing editor Shayne Currie confirmed that while there were still some internal selection processes occurring this week, due to new roles being created, there would be about 15 redundancies.

“We have been focused on becoming a ‘mobile-first’ media business for some time and the new newsroom further enables this. More than 250 journalists will work from the hub, with new roles introduced in digital and data journalism areas.

“Data journalism – using statistics and data as a source for interactive and indepth storytelling – is playing a critical role as we extend our quality journalism offering.”

Fran O’Sullivan continues as head of business while Liam Dann moves into the newly created role of business editor at large, after eight years as business editor. NZME is currently looking for a new business editor.

Currie also announced the appointment of Trevor McKewen as NZME’s new head of sport, overseeing the company’s print/digital and radio sports journalists. McKewen, most recently general manager sport at Fairfax, has been leading NZME’s Rugby World Cup coverage.

Award-winning Sunday Star-Times writer Kim Knight has accepted one of two newly created Weekends writer positions and begins in January. Currie confirmed details of the new Weekends magazines team will be announced over the coming weeks.

“I am extraordinarily pleased with the quality and experience of this team of senior journalists who will help implement the seven-day newsroom and integration between all of our platforms and products,” he said.

Currie also announced the addition of three new writers to the NZME stable – author Alan Duff, Raybon Kan and Lizzie Marvelly.

They join columnists Toby Manhire, Brian Rudman, Fran O’Sullivan, Brian Gaynor, Brian Fallow, Deborah Hill Cone and Mike Hosking.

Currie says the integrated newsroom is configured to operate on an “audience-first” basis, with a central ‘heartbeat’ comprising digital, print, visual, radio and production editors working closely alongside social media and audience analytic experts. The central hub allows for the newsroom to operate at different speeds, from fast-breaking news to well-planned, quality investigations and campaigns.

“By bringing our digital, print, radio, video and photo teams together in one, integrated 24/7 operation, we harness a power that’s unique in New Zealand. We can deliver journalism and content to audiences and readers when they want it and how they want it.

“The successful international newsrooms operate like this and The New Zealand Herald’s recent PANPA Newspaper of the Year Award win showed we are 100% on the right track. Our entry was based on the integrated news approach with a heavy emphasis on digital content.”

NZME is hiring several new digital-specific roles to beef up its capability in key areas such as news, entertainment, lifestyle and travel.

Currie says the submissions received from journalists during the feedback phase of the proposed NZME One Newsroom structure did impact on the final plan.

“We received excellent feedback – considered, constructive and detailed responses and this positively influenced the final plan.”

Currie’s editorial leadership team includes New Zealand Herald editor Murray Kirkness, Weekends editor Miriyana Alexander, digital editor Irene Chapple (who joins NZME from CNN Money in London), general manager talk radio Steve Kyte, general manager digital innovation Marcus Forbes, editorial manager Laura Franklin, head of lifestyle Jacqui Loates, head of entertainment Joanna Hunkin, Viva GM Amanda Linnell, head of presentation Rob Cox, head of visuals Chris Marriner and planning editor Chris Reed.

Currie reports directly to NZME ceo Jane Hastings.

“This is one of the best multi-media newsrooms in the world,” said Currie.

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