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Saving Your Scoop - A Rally Cry (& The Fellowship Of Scoop)

Saving Your Scoop - A Rally Cry | 500 Words
And Introducing the Fellowship Of Scoop

An Open Letter From Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson

Scoop is Crowd-funding for the establishment of the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism. We have reached 30% of our PledgeMe Target of $50,000 and now need 600 more Kiwis who believe in democracy, freedom and the importance of a free media to join the 400 generous donors who have already become Members of the Scoop Foundation to CLICK HERE AND PLEDGE NOW.

If you have already pledged or are unable to then please share this post (hint there are twitter and facebook pages above to the left) or our link on social media or via email with your friends.

Carpe Diem!

On the day we launched this crowd-funding campaign I spoke at the Public Good Aotearoa New Zealand #Infoethics conference held at St Andrew's on the Terrace. Not for the faint-hearted this video provides a useful introduction to the Scoop Foundation. Why we have created it and why we think it has a fighting chance to play a genuine role in preserving some of the spirit and craft of the noble profession of journalism during this period of the media apocalypse.
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Saving Your Scoop - A Rally Cry

Dear Scoop Staff, Collaborators, Readers, Watchers, Allies and Friends,

This is a call to arms. A rally cry. Scoop needs your help.

And what is at stake is much more than simply the future of the website.

For the past 16 years Scoop has done its best to give every voice an opportunity to be heard, to speak truth to power, to use words persuasively to bring justice to where it is needed and to illuminate dark places. We have done this work because we believe in it, and also because it is fun. And we would like to continue to do it. We are a small team and the resources we manage to scrape together achieve a great deal (E.G.,,,,, and are all powered by Scoop.)

As the impact of digital disruption bit hard at the end of 2014 (our advertising orders simply fell off a cliff) the team at Scoop met in a crisis meeting in the office of the Scoop HQ. Together we decided that Scoop was a piece of public infrastructure which is valuable enough to NZ Society for it to be worth our effort trying to save. And we then set about saving it.

And that effort to save Scoop came to a vitally important milestone when Scoop formally became a charity six weeks ago. At that point Scoop became an opportunity for democracy loving people and institutions of New Zealand.

Over the past 11 months of "Operation Chrysalis" the team at Scoop have achieved a remarkable breakthrough. We took a couple of ideas we have been developing for the past three years (charitable status and a new interpretation of creative commons copyright licencing) and we turned them into products which provide with a fighting chance of survival.

All this was only possible thanks to the generous assistance of a cast of hundreds whom I intend to try to thank specifically in a follow up post to this one.

But right now for the promise of the breakthrough we have made to materialise we need your help.

Hence this rally cry.

We have done the hard part - creating a new business model which is capable of supporting us. As November begins the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism now has over 400 financial members and 70 commercial use licence holders. To use start-up jargon we have a saleable and scalable proven product set and a large and increasingly engaged addressable market, one which contains more than enough opportunity to enable Scoop to prosper.

But what we do not have is the investment we need to get there - and that is why we are now crowd funding.

If we can raise the number of members to 1000 by November 17th then we will have a fighting chance of completing Scoop's transition. In New Zealand in order to succeed it is first important that you have already succeeded - there are now two weeks left and it is up to you New Zealand to decide whether Scoop is worth saving.

If you agree that we are on the right track then simply nodding is not enough, we need active assistance - and here is how you can help:
>> Pledge and become a member $16 or more @
>> Tell your friends especially on Facebook >> Check out our Facebook Page for material to share
>> Encourage your employer (if you use Scoop at work and value it) to subscribe to a licence which will support us to both continue to publish your message to the world - and save journalism - which they can also pay for by way of a pledge (pricing starts at $420)
>> Volunteer to join the Scoop Team and participate directly in the future of Scoop (including a crew of social media amplifiers) at

In June last year I personally discovered a suitable outlet to express frustration at the State of the NZ News Media - cabbages.


On The Fellowship Of Scoop (And My Moving On From Scoop)

In three weeks - if things go according to plan - my wife Wendy and I will depart for the EU. At which point my involvement in the publishing project Scoop will begin to decline.

Till now Scoop has been a family run business. My brothers Miles and Finlay and their friends and colleagues have helped manage the technical side over the years. My mother and father backed the company in its infancy and later and my mother is now my fellow trustee.

However Scoop has now out-grown the Thompson family and needs to build a new community of supporters.

My working name for this community is The Fellowship of Scoop - and we plan to have a meeting to launch it before I leave. The Fellowship will be a high trust learning community for people working in the news sector and who are involved in some way directly or indirectly with the Scoop project.

The name comes from a combination of our middle of middle-earth origins and from my recent experience as a member of the Flourishing Fellowship - an educational community ( created by the @Enspiral venture @LifeHack ) built to foster social entrepreneurship to improve youth wellbeing.

My hope is that the Fellowship will provide a place to develop engagement with the new people who are needed to step into the hot seats at Scoop at this very uncertain time, and that it will also create the support network that these people require.

The Scoop Foundation needs at least three more active trustees. The Scoop Publishing Company needs several directors. Scoop's Editorial Panel is looking for experienced journalists and editors to help guide and support its plans in public interest journalism. The publishing team is looking for volunteer curators and publishers to assist us to widen the scope of Scoop's publishing activities.

And so this is what the Fellowship of Scoop is intended to be - an organisation to which the people of Scoop affiliate and engage with each other cooperatively. A high trust learning and support community of wonderful humans who work together on the Scoop project.

If this sounds like you then please sign up as a "Contributor" at


The Media Apocalypse Deepens - Scoop Responds To The Challenge

Notwithstanding the less than ideal conditions that Scoop finds itself in, in the New Scoop project independent professional news in New Zealand now has a better chance of survival now than it has had for several years.

The success of "Operation Chrysalis" in creating a growing base of 400 financial supporters "Members" in just three months as well as bringing on board 70 paying Commercial Use Content Licence Holders is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Nowhere in the world (that we know of - please email examples if you have any) has any "free to the public" high quality general news vehicle of Scoop's size been able to find a viable business model.

In order for "Operation Chrysalis" to succeed we needed to overcome a series of very difficult challenges. And we needed to do so whilst continuing to keep on keeping on - publishing 200 news items a day and dealing with all the fall-out that is involved in being a serious independent news outlet.

We needed to open up the subject of the "news crisis" to public debate. We needed to connect to our readership and build a new kind of closer relationship and we needed a new business model which could make is sustainable in the long term in spite of NZ's small scale as a news market.

Fortunately all these objectives were strongly supported by the arrival of the media apocalypse.

In April when we realised that the solution to the news crisis being applied by all the major media companies was a head-first race towards the lowest common denominator - Scoop launched a Campaign for Advertiser Responsibility.

For those of us in the business the media apocalypse has been something we have seen coming for several years. For the general public however it came into stark relief during the #SaveCampbellLive social media campaign which followed a decision by the former NZX CEO Mark Weldon - and new boss of Mediaworks - to axe NZ's most loved current affairs show and take NZ's most trusted broadcaster off the air.

For a few weeks we got angry. We watched Campbell Live avidly and drove its ratings up but it in the end they still cancelled the show anyway - almost certainly because they wanted to drastically cut production costs.

A petition of over 100,000 signatures was presented to Mediaworks but that mattered not a lot.

Information is power NZ's public are being disconnected from both. Whether intentionally or due to inattention the result is the same. We are losing both access to the information we need to participate as citizens in NZ and with it the ability to influence the way our nation is governed.

And as the end of 2015 approaches it is clear that the media apocalypse and still well and truly upon us.

The most recent news of scaled back editorial cutbacks at the NZ Herald (only 15 redundancies - vs rumours of 20% cuts) is very welcome. But they are still cuts. Cuts layered upon earlier cuts at arguably the last bastion of quality journalistic practice in NZ.

TVNZ's decision late yesterday not to reduce the number of news teams in the 65,000 square kilometre region of Otago/Southland from three to one is also welcome, albeit also a bit farcical. The TVNZ news presence in the south is still being cut, just not quite as absurdly. [Data: Otago at 31,241 km² plus Southland at 34,347 km² is 160% the size of Switzerland (41,285 km²) and around 3 quarters the size of Austria (83,855 km²).]

The cuts which are now underway everywhere are being driven by innovations in internet marketing which have created the world's most effective ever marketing platform. This consists of programmatic (robotic) systems which can track highly targeted customer segments wherever they go on the internet with banners, videos and editorial "Native advertising" advertising products.

Why do journalists need to get paid? - The Scoop Foundation

To have good journalism you need good journalists, ideally experienced, knowledgable and connected ones. The Scoop Foundation offers a viable solution to the problem of funding good journalism Please share and pledge >>

Posted by Scoop Independent News on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

While digital advertising spend is now bigger than broadcast TV spend and massively more efficient - its relationship with the news industry has effectively been terminated. Whereas previously digital revenues were at least growing - albeit not fast enough. For most news publishers they are now falling again.

At the beginning of this year I asked 5 questions to kick off a discussion about the State of NZ News Media.

"Is it time for us to should abandon the idea that in the long run marketers and advertisers -which historically has paid for the bulk of news production - will be able to continue to do the pay for it in the future - especially in a small market like New Zealand? [ CLICK TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION]

In my experience advertisers do not really like being associated with news, at least not of the challenging journalistic kind. Most marketers trying to sell something then would much prefer to approach potential customers with an offer for a product when people are in a happy place - reading about a nice holiday, a sports hero or a theory about how to get thinner faster. In the past advertisers were attracted to the real news audiences because they tend to be rich and influential. But now that the internet has given marketers other means and places to reach these audiences more cost effectively - so much so that a commercial relationship with NZ news media is increasingly less important.

Marketers will tell you that contentious political discussions about welfare, investigations into business crime and accounts of the imminent destruction of the economy/environment/our freedoms are not a particularly conducive sales vector for say, home loans or women's fashion. Though they might be ok for Insurance. And in general, marketers are right about this, Bottom line they no longer need news to sell things and they do not believe they have any responsibility to pay for the news media."

Following these observations Scoop's advertising revenues fell from 50% of gross revenue to 10% on a first half (April - September) year on year comparison basis. While this is partly because Scoop has fully re-directed its limited sales resources at sales of subscription services (Infopages, Newsagent, Content Licences and Memberships), there is at present no viable digital advertising models for NZ news publishers in the NZ market.

The launch of KPEX, a digital programmatic (robotic advertising placement) advertising sales platform for NZ's Premium publishers (Fairfax, NZME. TVNZ and Mediaworks) is - like the Otago Southland TVNZ cutbacks - an obvious public signal of capitulation by a news industry which is in full desperation mode. They may hope it will help. But it almost certainly won't. Globally you can now but programmatic native content - i.e. syndicate editorial stories into websites wherever Kiwis are lurking with content aimed at their particular interests.

Now, unless NZ's advertisers can be convinced that preserving the NZ News industry is something that is in their interests and that they are therefore willing to invest in for strategic reasons - rather than simply to sell the things - then the role of advertising and marketing dollars in the digital future of news in NZ is now over.

And that means something else has to pick up the slack.

The success or failure of Scoop's current campaign is therefore about far more than just the continuation of Scoop's independent news, opinion, analysis and press release publishing venture.

Contained in Scoop's campaigning efforts this year has been the seeds of a serious public debate about the future of news, and the role of news services in supporting democracy. This debate has now started and the Scoop Foundation is in a position to keep it going until we reach a conclusion on how to better pay for the public interest journalism that NZ society requires to flourish.

As I have been repeatedly saying to anyone who will listen ( Noelle McCarthy on Radio NZ, Vaughn Davis on Radio Live, and most recently Kerry Sunderland Fresh FM ) Scoop's discussion of the problems facing the news also contains a solution which can be employed by all media - not just Scoop, and not just in NZ.

Scoop's "Ethical Paywall" is a new approach to looking at the copyright of news which provides a source of revenue for news creators that incentivises the publication of the kind of news and information which supports an informed public and society. None of the other solutions to the news crisis currently on the table do this - and none of them can work at NZ's scale.

Integrity is the heart of all media brands and it is the destruction of that which is what is really killing the news. As NZ's news organisations remain constantly on the back foot when discussing their own troubles - which cannot be acknowledged publicly by the industry for fear of looking weak - the public is turning off and even becoming actively hostile towards the news media.

From a public perspective terrible decisions are being made by news bosses. The core role of the news media to hold the powerful to account is being abandoned in favour of pursuit of the a chimera - advertising revenue derived from click-bait tactics designed to trick people into clicking links and watching video advertisements (which are the only ones still worth a dime - albeit not for long.)


Help us get the newly formed Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism established. Please share and pledge >>

Posted by Scoop Independent News on Monday, October 19, 2015

Why I Personally Am Leaving And What It Means For Scoop

When planning "Operation Chrysalis" my leaving was always a key component of the script.

While my reasons for departure are largely personal - the need to also create space for others to move into leadership roles at Scoop is vitally important for Scoop's survival. A new future needs a new team, new people, new energy and perhaps even a new generation to take on the task of saving the news in NZ. I will continue to assist from afar, but as I explain below, I am increasingly of a view that my engagement with Scoop is an obstacle to some of the relationships which Scoop needs to form in order to thrive.

Personally speaking though my departure is driven by my reaching a certain stage in life, plus opportunity. My wife Wendy are both British Citizens and with our children now grown up there is no longer any need for us to remain here in NZ. So we are embarking on a long delayed OE. For both of us after 18 years of putting everything into a very difficult business (which has carried with it a huge amount of unnecessary conflict) it is long past time for a change.

I have no idea what the future will hold for us in Europe, but I expect change will provide space for growth. To refresh, reenergise and - most importantly - for a life which does not carry with it the burden of responsibility for the existence of that I have held for the past 8 years.

In addition recent conversations with trusted advisors have convinced me that there is another good reason to go.

While some people have forgiven the mistakes I made at the beginning of 2014 others clearly haven't and my association with the Scoop Project is consequently now both an asset and a liability. As I have previously acknowledged publicly my involvement in the entire Internet Party affair was ill-thought out and irresponsible.

I now strongly believe that the ongoing fallout from events which occurred at this time is continuing to deter some key potential allies and helpers of Scoop from stepping forward and helping with Scoop's mahi of saving something of the spirit of the NZ news industry.

New Zealand is a small country with people with long memories - characteristics which can be both a blessing and a curse.

My departure from Scoop therefore comes with very mixed emotions and a lot of baggage. But it is also, I am certain, the right decision.

That said it also has very important implications for all those who use Scoop (120,000 users each week), those who are interested in the future of Scoop, and those who support the cause of saving the integrity of the NZ news media.

In particular it means needs new energy, new people, new leadership and new ideas.


Whats good journalism worth to you?

When the rubber hits the road good journalism requires time, expertise, experience and those things cost money. What is it worth to you?Find our more & pledge here >>"What's my brain worth?" was Pat Bolster,s answer. What's yours?We need only 800 people to pay for a year's membership of Scoop to reach the target in this campaign and get the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism established. If you like us would like to see a change to the trajectory of NZ's news industry then helping the newly formed Scoop Foundation may be the most effective action you can take.And PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK with your Facebook friends. Just 200 people with four friends who believe in the importance of independent media is all that is required get this project on its feet. - Scoop Editor and Scoop Foundation Trustee Alastair Thompson

Posted by Scoop Independent News on Monday, October 26, 2015

An Invitation

My departure from NZ later this month will signal the beginning of the end of my direct involvement in Scoop and the Scoop Foundation.

At present I am editor, director and trustee of Scoop. For Scoop to thrive others will need to step into these positions. I will stay on as a trustee for as long as I am needed but am very keen to make the space for others to step into leadership roles there too.

This is a key part of the purpose of the campaign which we launched to coincide with the incorporation of the New Scoop charitable trust - to bring in new people and energy into the Scoop mahi (work).

So far we have had nearly 100 contributors sign-on at to join the Scoop crew. We are in the process of surveying them to ascertain their skills, availability and levels of interest in participating in the process. If active participation in a project to help save public interest journalism sounds like you then please join us.

As always, watch this space. We are moving fast and we have lots to do.

Please also share this message/open letter with those who you think might be interested in either supporting Scoop's mission financially or in getting involved.

Kind Regards,

Alastair Thompson

© Scoop Media

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