Wednesday, September 16, 2009...9:30 am

Media meltdown: news from New Zealand

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I asked recently how your media recession is going (and please do take part in the poll on the right, by the way).

In response, Knowledge Workers blogger Bill Bennett writes in to sketch out an alarming scenario from New Zealand. You think we’ve got it bad in the UK? Be afraid…

The media has been hit particularly hard in New Zealand. The biggest independent publisher went bust. I worked for Fairfax, the largest newspaper publisher and 550 staff were cut from a total of around 1,700 in November 2008 across Australia and New Zealand – about 5% of its workforce. They were not all journalists, but journalists were disproportionately affected.

New Zealand accounted for 160 of the total cut – which was more than 5% and nearer to 10% of the staff in that country. This was on top of other cuts earlier in the year as newspaper subbing departments were dismantled with the work being sent to remote ‘centres of excellence’ known internally as ‘sub-hubs’.

At a rough estimate, 40% of journalists have lost their jobs in the past 18 months. Today there are about 20 percent of the number of working journalists there were in 1990. Every newspaper subbing department has been closed with most of the work farmed out to backpackers who earn the minimum legal wage.

And you still want to do that journalism degree? Seriously – unless you’re just doing it for the piece of paper, think about a different line of work…

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