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Fears For Regional News As NZME Proposes Job Cuts

Journalists at NZME’s regional and community newspapers in the North Island are seeking support from their local communities as they face the loss of more than 11 full time equivalent jobs from newsrooms across the North Island.

Titles like the Northern Advocate, Hawkes Bay Today, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, the Whanganui Chronicle, and other community papers will all be hit by cuts to journalists and the removal of all photo-journalists, if the proposal goes ahead.

The proposal includes cutting out all regional photographers, which Northern Advocate photographer Michael Cunningham said would be the end of an important era.

"The job was more than just taking photos, it was documenting Northland's history, and also becoming the custodian of nearly 150 years of photographic history in Northland."

Michael has been a photographer at the paper for 32 years and said the highlight of his work is the thanks he gets from the community.

"It's probably the joy that you get from members of the community who are so happy that you've come to cover their event. It could be anything from the local bridge club to a future All Black."

Photographs and video are an important part of telling these stories, and hugely important to any media organisation, Michael says.

"I believe that the stories and photos that the Northern Advocate has covered over these years have genuinely made lives better for a lot of people in the Northland community."

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Northern Advocate journalist Denise Piper said it is local communities who will miss out on coverage if the proposal goes ahead.

"Our job is all about holding the powers-that-be to account and giving a voice to the region's most vulnerable, including patients, local businesses and environmental champions."

E tū Negotiation Specialist Michael Wood says NZME must not underestimate the importance of regional news.

“The media are the vital connections between groups and individuals, from local sports groups to community culture, to emergency services organisations,” Michael says.

“Recent history with emergencies and disasters has shown exactly how important it is to have good reporting on the ground in all our communities. Reducing the capacity for local storytelling would harm how communities respond to these events.

“It will be little comfort for these regions that NZME claims this is not a cost cutting exercise but will free up resources for investing in four new reporting jobs in Wellington, Christchurch, and business coverage.

“We’re calling on the affected local communities to join our call to save these important roles. NZME needs to hear from local leaders and groups just how important it is to have strong local media.”

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