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Businessdesk Growth Continues With Key Hires And Initiatives

New Zealand’s best independent business news service, BusinessDesk, is pleased to announce key hires and new initiatives as it pursues growth despite the severe disruption to news media businesses that covid-19 has exacerbated.

“Like every business, we have seen negative impacts from the covid-19 response,” said chief executive Pattrick Smellie.

“However, we are also seeing growth in paid subscriptions and a growing willingness by readers to invest in serious, trustworthy news written by an experienced team of professional journalists.

“That makes us confident to make these investments of our own at this otherwise challenging time.”

Founded in 2008 as a wholesale content newswire selling news to other publishers, BusinessDesk began pivoting last year to become a subscription-only news service, following an investment by new shareholder Brian Gaynor.

BusinessDesk soft-launched its paywalled news site,, in Wellington last November, followed by a high-profile launch in Auckland shortly before the level 4 covid-19 lockdown.

“Covid-19 cost us a lot in lost launch support advertising and anticipated corporate subscription growth.

“However, we believe the pandemic is also driving a sustained spike in demand for high quality business and economic intelligence to help inform business owners, investors, public servants working in government agencies supporting economic activity, homeowners, KiwiSaver members, and any savvy Kiwi with an interest in the country’s future.

“We are positioning to meet that need, unencumbered by the high costs of legacy news publishing businesses or by dependence on advertising revenue,” said Smellie. “We welcome advertisers who want to come on the journey with us as we grow.”

To that end, we have made four key appointments in recent weeks. They are:

  • Rebecca Stevenson: Award-winning business editor at Stuff, Rebecca is respected as one of the country’s sharpest business news journalists. She will join BusinessDesk as head of the Auckland bureau on July 27;
  • Jacqui Loates-Haver: formerly editor of the Air New Zealand’s award-winning Kia Ora magazine, Jacqui will edit BusinessDesk’s new travel and leisure section, which will focus in its early phase on the revival of the New Zealand domestic and trans-Tasman tourism markets, along with restaurant, motoring, and lifestyle writing and reviews of the highest editorial standards;
  • Andy Fyers: currently a senior data journalist at Stuff, Andy has won awards in both New Zealand and internationally for his data visualisation work and will bring new dimensions to our story-telling by bringing to life the numbers that are the lifeblood of all good business and economic reporting;
  • Lauren Buckeridge: formerly executive assistant to the editor of the New Zealand Listener magazine, Lauren joins the BusinessDesk team to work alongside our publisher, Matt Martel, to help grow sales, marketing, social media, customer relationship management and our now continuous website development.

Our new team members join top legal reporter Victoria Young and senior reporter Brent Melville in the Auckland bureau and BusinessDesk’s Wellington team of Pattrick Smellie (ceo/editor), Paul McBeth (chief reporter), senior reporters Rebecca Howard (ex AP-Dow Jones and Reuters), Gavin Evans (ex Bloomberg and Energy News), 2018 NZ Shareholders’ Association Business Reporter of the Year Jenny Ruth, and up and coming junior reporter Dan Brunskill, who joined BusinessDesk from the AUT journalism school earlier this year.

“This is as skilled and dynamic a team as exists in top-end New Zealand journalism. We look forward to more appointments as we continue to grow,” said Smellie.

Subscribe with Google

Along with continuous website upgrades allowing subscribers increasing choice over how, when and what news they receive, BusinessDesk will also shortly become the first news website in New Zealand to activate the ‘subscribe with Google’ function.

This allows anyone signing up to BusinessDesk to become a subscriber in two simple clicks.

Business news for BusinessNZ

BusinessDesk is also delighted to have signed BusinessNZ on a nationwide subscription. Every one of Business New Zealand’s 20,000 member companies will be eligible for a BusinessDesk subscription.

“As the New Zealand economy starts the long road to recovery from the impact of covid-19, we are making New Zealand’s best dedicated business and economic news service available to the country’s leading business associations, and substantially increasing the size of our audience.”

New columnists

Subscribers will already be aware that we have brought on three new columnists:

  • Peter Griffin – one of this country’s best technology writers, Peter’s columns appear on a Thursday morning;
  • Jehan Casinader – winner of best broadcaster at the 2020 Voyager Awards, Jehan brings fresh perspective each weekend;
  • David Chaplin – One of New Zealand’s most experienced investment writers, David’s columns appear on a Tuesday and are a must-read for both providers and customers of retail investment products alike.


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