Journalism.org.nz is a not-for-profit trust dedicated to creating and supporting public interest journalism.
It is building a platform for the public and journalists to work together to investigate, probe, challenge and hold to account governments, companies and special interests.
Journalism.org.nz is a non-partisan and that will employ journalists to gather information, ask questions and publish news, analysis, investigations and commentary in the public interest.
It is funded by members of the public who want to support this kind of journalism.
A new and in many ways exciting era for the fourth estate has just begun.
The traditional venues and business models underpinning journalism are being dismantled and recreated. The ‘rivers of gold’ of display and classified advertising that once subsidised the reporting of news in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television are being sucked out and squirted into the coffers of Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and TradeMe. None of these companies need to build news organisations to capture those advertising revenues.
As these advertising revenues leach away in tandem with readers and viewers, the news gathering resources deployed by these traditional outlets are being gutted and restructured to focus on high sugar/low protein news. That means more entertainment, crime, sport and human interest news, and less news about government, education, health, the economy, business, the environment and social welfare.
Strong news organisations become weak and vulnerable to being taken over by special interests or simply limit their coverage to the high sugar/low protein news that sells and rates, but never truly satisfies.
The ultimate result is a hollowed out fourth estate with little investigative, accountability and enterprise journalism. It becomes a vehicle for churnalism, celebrity journalism and the views of special interests.
This doesn’t sound exciting or appetising and it’s not.
A new wave of journalism and debate is bubbling up from the grass roots, thanks to the now very low barriers to publish. The advent of blogging software, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones and iPads has put the power to publish in the hands of almost all citizens in New Zealand.
The opportunities for crowdsourcing of news, data, comment and analysis are enormous. The costs of launching a website and publicising it are the lowest in history.
That’s where a not-for-profit journalism site such as Journalism.org.nz comes in. A model is emerging in the United States, Europe and Australia where philanthropists seed the creation of such sites, which are then supported by memberships and donations.
We plan to offer a range of memberships where members of the public who want to support public interest journalism can donate regular amounts per month to pay for journalists to gather, write and publish on Journalism.org.nz and through other media.
Bernard Hickey is the Founding Editor of Journalism.org.nz. He is an Auckland-based financial journalist and editor with 20 years experience in electronic and newspaper publishing. He began as a journalist with global news company Reuters in 1992 in Wellington, before moving to Canberra, Sydney, London and eventually Singapore.
He helped launch FTMarketWatch for the FT Group in 2000 and 2001 before becoming the Founding Editor of Reuters.co.uk in 2002. He returned to New Zealand in 2004 to work as the Dominion Post’s Business Editor. After almost a year as the Managing Editor of XtraMSN at Telecom, he returned to Fairfax Media to become first the Managing Editor for Business Publications and then Head of Digital for Fairfax. He sat on the advisory board for TradeMe in 2007,
Since 2008 Bernard has been the Managing Editor of Interest.co.nz, an advertising and sponsorship funded free news and information site for borrowers, savers and investors. He is due to leave that position from November 1, 2012 to work independently. He supports himself from freelance journalism, media appearances and speaking engagements. He is a business commentator on Radio Live and writes a weekly column for Herald on Sunday. He also appears regularly on RadioNZ National and both TVNZ and TV3 as a business and financial commentator.
Journalism.org.nz aims to launch at the end of 2012.
We welcome your support and ideas while we build this platform.
Watch this space.