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Big Changes to TV News and Current Affairs

Biggest Changes to Tv News and Current Affairs in 20 Years

TVNZ has unveiled the biggest changes to New Zealand television news and current affairs operations in about 20 years.

TVNZ Head of News, Current Affairs, Sports, Maori and Pacific Anthony Flannery said today the proposed changes involved the introduction of new technology, training to make staff multi-skilled and a reorganisation of news and current affairs gathering processes and practices.

“With TVNZ’s ‘inspiring New Zealanders on every screen’ strategy of getting news, information and entertainment on to many screens, a group of news and current affairs managers have been looking at news and current affairs operations around the world for the past 12 months,” Mr Flannery said.

“British, European and North American broadcasting operations have been changing their news and current affairs gathering processes and practices over the last ten years to create Multi-Media operations. This sees news and current affairs reporters and producers expanding their work across multiple programmes and platforms instead of being limited to one as TVNZ currently is.”

He said that after initial consultation with staff, TVNZ expected to have a customised version of this Multi-Media approach with some dedicated staff for programmes plus a pool of reporters, producers, editors and camera operators.

The proposal is for News and Current Affairs to be grouped into four areas – Newsgathering, Daily Programmes, Current Affairs and Operations. Newsgathering would get the daily stories and Daily Programmes would decide how they would be shaped for the programmes and platforms they were to go on. Operations would do the logistics.

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“The proposed News and Current Affairs structure is programme and platform agnostic and based on the philosophy of ‘make once, publish many’ and brings our operations into the 21st century. Instead of a number of different programmes all chasing after the same story and duplicating resources, a reporter and a producer will see a story through the whole day across a number of programmes and platforms.

“The story ideas and follow-ups will be driven from and gathered back to a central hub. They will then be re-purposed for the particular programme or platform they are to go on.

“That’s a better use of resources and reflects that TVNZ now has more than ONE News @ 6 to service. There’s also NZI Business, Breakfast, Midday News, 4.30pm news, Close Up, Tonight, News Updates, Te Karere, sports programmes, News at 8, the TVNZ 7 hourly bulletins, tvnz.co.nz and news for mobile phone providers.

“The current operation was built at a time when ONE News @ 6 was the way most New Zealanders received their news. Digitisation has changed all that and people increasingly get their news anywhere and any time.”

In current affairs the proposal is for SUNDAY, 20/20 and Fair Go to further share resources and there would be more planning and interaction with daily news.
Some 150 reporters, producers and camera operators would shortly begin a training programme over a six month period to teach them the skills of editing. In future reporters and producers would be expected to be able to edit their stories to a greater level of completion, with editors providing the final polish.

This was not new for some reporters, producers and camera operators who already successfully did their own editing, particularly when overseas on assignment. Many international news and current affairs broadcasters already work this way.

He said the company would be spending $1.5 million on the implementation, including new equipment and training as part of this Multi-Media strategy. In future, for example, some reporters would have an electronic wireless internet capable “netbook” so they can write, voice and file from the field. This was critical for the timely transfer of stories for online, mobile and hourly news bulletins.

“Modern, internationally employable news broadcasters will need to work this way. We’re keeping up with the best broadcasters in the world.”

Flannery said the proposed changes would see about 31 roles disestablished, including cancelling seven current vacancies. It would also see the establishment of about 14 new roles. The net impact of this was about 10 fewer roles in News and Current Affairs than now. But because external people would be able to apply for some of those newly established roles it may result in about 15 people – including two current affairs reporters and some producers, editors, camera operators and support staff - losing their jobs out of News and Current Affairs’ 258-strong team.

The staff reductions and changes in work practices once bedded in would result in annual savings of between $3 million and $3.3 million.


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