On last night's Media Take, which you can watch here, Simon Wilson talks about moving on after five notable years as the editor of Metro magazine.
In the normal course of things, this would be more bad media news, but it became clear in the conversation that it is, in its way, reason to be cheerful. Simon realised that he was enjoying writing more than editing – as might have been divined from the sheer number of words under his byline in recent issues – and has managed to negotiate a new position as contributing editor (essentially a staff writer with bonus mana), which will carry a full editorial salary.
From Bauer Media, which has frequently given the impression of being unwilling to spend money on anything, this is notable. Although Metro's long, slow decline in circulation has more or less halted under Simon's tenure, it's not exactly a cash cow. The company hasn't transformed overnight – it's still trying to force rancid and unfair contract terms on freelancer writers – but even small victories over mere bean-counting are cheering these days.
Simon will stay on until a replacement is found, in order to enact a handover. The recruitment ad for the job is quite interesting. It refers to Metro seven times as a "brand" and only five as a "magazine" and even proposes that the successful candidate will be (gulp) a "solution orientated brand champion". But within that is an acknowledgement that a magazine like Metro needs to be more than a monthly pile of paper. A new editor – indeed, any modern editor – will need skills in business development. This is how things are now.
In the same generally upbeat episode of Media Take, Damian Christie talks about Yours TV, the latest evolution of the Yours project for teenage broadcasters and journalists that he kicked off about three years ago. The significance of Yours TV is that it won some NZ On Air digital funding, and that it's there on TVNZ On Demand, like a proper programme.
As Damian pointed out in his announcement on this site recently, the distinction between being "only" on-demand rather than grown-up broadcast is less and less material to the demographic making and watching the programme. TVNZ is quietly looking for more content to present on this basis, and I would not be at all surprised to see Lightbox embrace local production soon. The budgets will be tighter, but the scope should be broader.
The other guest on the programme was Anna Guenther, the founder of the New Zealand crowdfunding site PledgeMe, which is currently celebrating its third birthday with a series of parties in different centres. It bears noting how far crowdfunding has moved into the mainstream in those three short years – especially with respect to what is now a core PledgeMe activity: equity crowdfunding.
Three years ago, raising capital through a crowdfunding website was not only a fringe idea, it was legally impossible. Now, PledgeMe has no fewer than five equity campaigns in motion and PledgeMe itself has just announced a second equity round. Several of these campaigns have been strongly oversubscribed. Some of the investors might have been game for a conventional sharemarket investment, most probably would not.
PledgeMe has also provided a way forward for our friends at the independent news service Scoop. An initial crowdfunding campaign was a success, and now Scoop has launched a campaign offering memberships starting at $16 annually – it closes next week if you're interested.
Although these purposes are serious, they keep the cultural elements of crowdfunding. PledgeMe, for example, offered new shareholders the reward of literally having their names in lights.
I think there's something in this, I really do.
In further happy news, the journalists at NZME have received some. No, not the departure of Rachel Glucina – although everyone seems pretty pleased about that – but the end of outsourced sub-editing. After seven years of unsatisfactory results, the company's relationship with Pagemasters will end when its contract expires in August.
A new groupwide sub-hub will be developed and that will mean some new hiring. I wouldn't expect it to dispel the often-awkward relationship between the company's radio and print cultures, but a return to keeping the institutional knowledge of the sub-editors in-house – rather than the work being done by people with no stake in the actual editorial product – is absolutely a good thing.