On the occasion of its second birthday The Spinoff editor Duncan Greive brings you this update on what we’ve done, and more importantly what we’re about to do. (Please read to the end.)
Two years ago today, The Spinoff first appeared on the chilled out global chat room we now call “the internet”. Back then, we were just a little website. Now, though, we’re … still just a little website. But we’re doing a few things! Got big dreams, making a little noise, kicking over a few bins. Probably about to put a road cone on a parked car.
A year ago we expanded our coverage from television to politics, sports, books and what we coyly called “society”. In those 12 long months we’ve accomplished a some things I’m really proud of as a team. Arbitrary highlights:
- Published Jemaine Clement’s obituary/tribute to David Bowie, the most-read piece we’ve ever had.
- And “I Will Come Forward“, a lengthy investigation into predatory behaviour by a music industry figure.
- Also On The Rag, a killer feminist podcast, leading a clutch of other cool pods which regularly sit in the top five of New Zealand’s charts.
- Later we submitted to a terrifying eight-hour livestream of No Man’s Sky.
- A few months earlier we won three Canon Media Awards.
- Then we hosted a cool poem by Hera Lindsay Bird which became an international sensation.
- By then we had already covered Mark Weldon’s furious reign at MediaWorks, including his dramatic downfall.
- At some point we ran a story about a weed drought which went viral and ended up referenced in the print edition of The Guardian.
- We welcomed an anonymous in-house therapy column.
- “Famously” we declared a War for (or was it on?) Auckland, crowd-funding nearly $25,000 for the effort, allowing us to do a beautiful data visualisation, a poll and heaps of other mint things.
- Along the way we got called some amazing names: “Paid mouthpiece website” / “corporate shill site” / “vigilante witch hunters” / “fast developing a reputation for being more wrong than Martyn Bradbury” / “clickbait merchants” / “so-called pop culture website”.
- Also we’ve been threatened with multiple lawsuits (none eventuating) and had one (successful) Press Council complaint just yesterday. Praises be to our heavenly lawyers who have a terrible job with worse pay keeping us out of jail.
It’s been exhausting and terrifying but also real fun.
Today, entering our terrible twos, it’s time debut a bunch more. Thanks to a variety of reasons, mostly nestling under the heading of trying too hard, the majority of what we’re today announcing are “impending”, rather than here today. But all are coming very soon, thanks to the maniac work of the blessed angels known as The Spinoff staff and the generosity of our sponsors, to whom we only owe our very existence. A warning: I will be labouring that point a little below, because it’s 100% true. Our writers have jobs and you guys have some delicious snackable content to feast on precisely because these brands – including the pioneering Lightbox, Barkers, BigPipe, Unity Books, Rugby Pass, Flight Centre, Callaghan Innovation and Creative NZ – have believed in us. So if you want to support us, as people semi-frequently and humblingly ask, the very best thing you can do is click through from our site to their sites and buy their products. That is what will keep the lights on and your favourite content flowing.
Anyway – here’s what’s coming, in no order at all:
Spinoff Parents brought to you by Flick Electric Co.
I’ve loved Emily Writes since the moment I first read her, and been scheming to figure out a way to work together for most of the intervening time. Her writing on what it is to be a parent has reached millions, often with a single post. It has traveled so far precisely because it presents a vision of being a parent that is raw and messy, as filled with anxiety and doubt as joy and pride. She’s written a brilliant piece outlining her vision for the site which I would urge you all to read.
It’s going to be a place for parents that doesn’t make you feel like a miserable failure, which is not something a lot of coverage online does. We’re so fortunate that Flick, who have supported Emily for ages, have again taken a leap and made this thing happen. If you want to help support Emily, and The Spinoff, please switch your power provider right now. Tell them on the old socials if you’re really keen. They’re New Zealand-owned, use the spot electricity market to make your bill smaller, and are basically what The Spinoff would want to be if we were a power company.
Starts: October 1
More Toby, More Catherine
Regular readers will be familiar with Toby Manhire’s shining eyes, lustrous mane and sonourous voice. His is a “vibe” that infects everything we do, and his “buzz” was The Spinoff before The Spinoff was The Spinoff. A year on from his recruitment, I’m thrilled to announce that Toby has upped his hours and got his own desk and is now our Senior Editor, working across all sections to bring you the good stuff.
Catherine McGregor’s role has been less public, perhaps, but everything I said about Toby’s attributes is true of her, too, only more so. For the past year she’s been roaming the world, exploring villages and one-horse towns like New York and Lisbon for our custom client Flight Centre. Now though, she’s found her way home to The Spinoff’s ample bosom to be our full-time production editor, in house and in our now quite cramped office. It’s fucking great to have the champs here.
Spinoff Society brought to you by AUT
A true fact: our Society section, despite having a posh-sounding name, is actually not a Real Housewives situation. It’s a category we opened on a whim, out of a sense that there were some really important conversations playing out across social media which got to the very heart of the challenges we face as yes, a society, which just weren’t getting much play in the ol’ MSM (of which we desperately want to be a part, just so you know).
We unlocked it a year ago, and have been running it on our own steam this whole time.
Another true fact: it’s consistently the most-read section on the site. Some of our biggest hits and most provocative and important pieces have come out of it. And yet, because we were self-funding, it was always a struggle to maintain, and at risk of neglect.
Thankfully AUT has decided that this is a conversation worth maintaining. They’re a great, forward-looking institution. I got my journalism diploma there. The interns they send through here are consistently fantastic. So: if you need some education, go there. If you’ve got a teen, send ’em over to the great modern uni on the hill. They’re ensuring these stories keep getting told.
Starts: October 1
On the Lash brought to you by Vinomofo
Over the past year we’ve made a bit of a thing out of long-form, conversational interviews with cool and interesting roosters. They’re a lot of fun to write, and have a nice intimacy as a read. For the subjects, too, I think they feel less mediated than most writing – knowing that their words will be their words seems to relax them into saying more than they might otherwise.
We’ve decided to take that principle and tip a bottle of wine down it with “On the Lash”, a new interview series sponsored by the magical Australian wine startup Vinomofo, who recently launched a New Zealand operation. A writer will sit down with a compelling subject for a good chat, and share a bottle of their incredibly good wine while they do it. The first one just launched, featuring the legend Alex Casey chatting with the god Anika Moa, because Anika is about to launch a talk show which we’re both appearing on and hosting. It’s giving the people what they want. Content warning: the interview contains a lot of burping and is just generally incredibly funny. If you want to see the series run on, please buy some delicious and super-smartly-priced wine from them.
Spinoff Media brought to you by MBM
It’s undeniable that the once proud and tall tree we called the media is rotting from the inside for 100 different reasons I will bore you with somewhere else at a future time. It’s also undeniable that the rot makes for a verdant final bloom, of which we are but a single sweet leaf. I’m trying an Alex Casey-style extended metaphor here and boy is it tanking. The point is that the media is an inferno and we all are enjoying watching it burn.
MBM is a media agency for the digital age, a prior sponsor now returning to power this section anew. A big part of The Spinoff’s quite extravagant growth (our traffic is up well over 1,000% year-on-year) has been driven by MBM getting our social strategy right. If you want to know how to operate your business on the internet, you really should talk to them.
Starts: October 1
The Spinoff App created by Translate Digital
Almost as frequently as people ask “how can we support you” (answer: support the companies which support us; also like, comment and share etc etc), people ask “do u have an app bro?” The answer until now has been: no.
Today though, the answer is: no. But soon it will be: yes! Thanks to our good mates and office co-habitants Translate Digital, run by my best mate Brody Nelson (whose birthday it is today too! Happy 38th Brody!), we will soon be launching an app for iOS and Android that will make reading The Spinoff on your telephone like Gold Class for your fingers/eyes.
The other thing is that installing the app makes it easier for us to serve our hot hot content to you. Our main traffic driver right now is Facebook. Lovely company, cool people, shame they don’t pay tax but you can’t do everything right? Anyway – we spend a lot of money paying Facebook to get our content in front of you. It’s fine, we won’t stop doing it. But it is a drag. We’d rather spend it on journalists. And wine. And electricity etc. So once this app comes out, if you download it and read us that way it’ll heal the world and make it a better place.
Here is a short video of a prototype in action. Tell me you wouldn’t want that on your pocket computer?!
And that’s all. Basically. We also have some super cool shit coming with Kiwibank, and the Human Rights Commission and DB Breweries and plenty more dumb money-losing schemes we’re doing for the hell of it. Thanks so fucking much for reading until the end, supporting the troops in our War to make a real live business and just generally being cool as heck in a weird world. Tonight we will drink some Garage Project and Vinomofo and tomorrow we will have regrets. But all that is in the future. Now it’s late and I really need to stop writing.
Your old mate the mad editor,
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.