Public interest journalism funded by the public


The What 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. 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.

The Why

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.

The How

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 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.

There are many examples. The best I’ve seen is in America, while closer to home there is the Australian-based

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 and through other media.

The Who

Bernard Hickey is the Founding Editor of 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 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, 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.

The When aims to launch at the end of 2012.

We welcome your support and ideas while we build this platform.

Watch this space.

105 thoughts on “About

  1. This looks fantastic, really excited to hear about this venture and will definitely sign up to be a member when it’s up and running later in the year.
    (Also, there’s a mistake in paragraph 3 above beginning ‘ is a non-partisan…’ – word missing??)
    Good luck to the work to come!

  2. Great idea. I’ve been a follower of Pro Publica for some time, and am thrilled you’re aiming to do something similar here. I don’t think the mainstream media in NZ is quite as diminished as you paint it, but yes there’s a real need for the kind of civic and social issues reporting that used to be done when newsrooms were bigger. Yes, we need to involve the public more. And yes, we need more investigative reporting. Here at Massey we’re putting an emphasis on that in our teaching, to give our students the skills to tackle deeper issues and complicated stories, if that’s where their interests lie. It’s great to know there is another outlet and more support for that. Well done, Bernard.

    James Hollings
    Senior Lecturer in Journalism
    Massey University

  3. Hi Bernard,
    I’m a kiwi living in the UK, and I welcome this attempt to broaden New Zealand’s journalistic diet.

    I have a question for you, which may already have been addressed elsewhere (feel free to give me a link) : a lot of our friends in their late 20s/early 30s are horrified at Auckland house prices, and my feeling is that a large amount of international capital is pouring into NZ looking for safe (-ish) investments, given NZ’s relatively high interest rate; more funds means banks are more willing to lend higher amounts, which pushes up prices. Is that part of the reason?

    If so, is there any way of sensibly reducing the amount of capital that is coming into the country, given that people my age are being priced out of the housing market due to a global demand for safe investments?

    I realise this flies in the face of NZ’s current free-trade stance, but we’ve innovated before, and I seem to recall your Damascene conversion some time back with regard to the benefits of an open economy.

    Anyway it’s just a thought – as I said, do point me to other sites if this has been addressed before.

    • Chris
      I agree we have some problems with capital flows and high house prices.
      I’ve been a regular commenter on those things on in recent years.
      After November 1 those comment pieces will be on ;)

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  6. How will is differ from Scoop please?

    • Steven
      Good question. Scoop do lots of great stuff and I’m sure will continue.
      We aim to raise money directly from members and spend it on journalism rather than try to make money from advertising.
      We also won’t be republishing press releases.

  7. Hi, Bernard. I was the chief sub-editor of The Northern Advocate newspaper in Whangarei for 25 years and would like to be involved in your venture if that was possible. I would be very interested. I am also an experienced reporter, including covering local body meetings. I am very familiar with issues here in Northland.

  8. Bernard – Can you please create a feed of JOURN.ORG.NZ to Twitter? …
    Facebook is more and more a ‘closed shop’ – and many have abandoned it, due to its recent design ‘improvements’… It should be possible to automatically feed content from JOURN.ORG.NZ to both Twitter and Facebook, without any additional manual work.

  9. I am quite excited about the website you are trying to establish. However a completely open site will probably not attract very interesting issues whereas New Zealand as a nation has some very serious things to talk about. We seem to be the only nation on the face of the earth that is deliberately trying to tear itself to pieces and bring about the divisions that lead to civil war and violence. Despite the fact that we have a human rights law which forbids special treatment based on ethnic background government seems to be so intent on remaining in office that they are quite willing to ignore this law, which has been repeated in constitutions the world over, in order to keep on the good side of a small ethnic group in order to stay in office. I believe that your website could bring to attention to our politicians that they are dealing with real fire, real problems and real strife by carrying on as they have been.

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