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New media trust launches for Queenstown Lakes District

A new local news media trust has been launched in Queenstown.

The Southern Community Media Trust addresses the withdrawal of mainstream media from Queenstown Lakes District – and staff reductions at local newspapers – while developing a new business model for journalism.

The trust has also partnered with the University of Canterbury’s School of Journalism, with the view to the training and career development of new journalists.

The trust will be run by five trustees from Queenstown and Wanaka, supported by a community advisory board, which will help guide day-to-day editorial policy. It will employ an editor and a small editorial team that will supply content to an independent online platform, which will initially be developed by the trust. The platform will content-share and collaborate with other media.

The trust will start publishing new local content from the end of April – including long-form public interest journalism and two-way engagement with the community on key local issues.

The trust has the backing of Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult, who spoke at the launch last night alongside UC Journalism School head Dr Tara Ross.

“The electronic age has made life extremely difficult for quality printed media. The traditional model for printed newspapers is a challenging one which has led to cost-cutting exercises. Quality in-depth investigative reporting is becoming a dying art due to the pressure of deadlines and diminishing resource. I hope that the trust will bring that in-depth perspective on our district that is much needed alongside our existing rich media channels,” Boult says.

A foundation trustee and donor is Dick Hubbard, former mayor of Auckland who now lives in Queenstown.

“In this fast-moving and often challenging day and age it is becoming even more important that communities are exposed to information, opinion, ideas and critiques about community and country. However, we must recognise that methods of communication are changing rapidly. This new media proposal represents, in my opinion, the way of the future. It addresses, in a robust and future proofed way, a current gap. I therefore unreservedly fully support it.”

The trust deed has been developed with the help of former NZ Herald editor, respected media commentator and author of Trust Ownership and the Future of News, Dr Gavin Ellis.

Founding editor is experienced journalist and producer Peter Newport, who has worked with all major NZ media as well as BBC News and Channel 9 Australia overseas.

“Queenstown and Wanaka risk becoming a ‘digital backwater’ if action is not taken – long-form journalism is vital to the development of Queenstown and Wanaka at a time when the district faces massive and unique challenges and opportunities,” Newport says.

“Media trusts have been successful overseas in developing a new business model for journalism and we are taking charge of our own future through conversation and the resulting argument, counter argument and consensus of deep storytelling.”


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