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Blogs have become more influential and prominent in NZ

Blogs have become more influential and prominent in New Zealand - report

New Zealand blogs became more prominent and influential during 2013, finds the JMAD New Zealand Media Ownership Report 2013. There are 280 ranked blogs, and the top political blogs record high visitor numbers. To be ranked, blogs must have a publicly accessible site meter that tracks visitor numbers.

While the financial ownership of New Zealand media has increased, and mainstream media become even more commercial, interest in public interest journalism is increasing.

“It is not surprising that citizen journalists and bloggers have started to take a more active role. The blogosphere is thriving right now because it provides an alternative to commercially focused media,” says AUT communication studies lecturer Merja Myllylahti, author of the report.

Myllylahti says controversial stories in 2013, like the Len Brown scandal (broken on the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog), the Andrea Vance phone records issue and the passage of legislation expanding the powers of the GCSB, have also contributed to active blogging culture.

“Some recent government actions, like the expansion of GCSB powers, can be seen to threaten media freedom. Therefore it is good to see that the New Zealand media is looking for new ways to raise issues, and bloggers are gaining in prominence.”

The top ranked New Zealand blog, Whale Oil Beef Hooked, has more than doubled its visitor numbers since September 2012 to 762,184 visitors per month, and the second ranked blog, Kiwiblog, has 397,034 visitors per month.

Myllylahti says, that also the fact that financial institutions have grown their stake in media ownership since 2010, is a worrying trend.

“This is worrying because the main objective of financial owners is to maximise their returns.  And in the current economic climate that often means the loss of thousands of journalism and editorial jobs, exacerbating the trend towards more commercial content.”

Ownership of major New Zealand media companies

•          MediaWorks: 100% owned by a lenders’ holding company

•          APN News and Media Shares: 55.6% owned by financial institutions (22.6% in 2010)

•          Fairfax Media: 56.5% owned by financial institutions (24.1% in 2010)

•          Sky TV:  19.6% owned by three financial firms

The 2013 New Zealand Media Ownership Report is published by AUT’s Centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy.  Read the 2011, 2012 and 2013 reports here: http://aut.ac/JMADMediaOwnershipReport2013

ENDS

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