The Spinoff newsroom watches that Jami-Lee Ross press conference in 2018 (Photo: Duncan Greive)

A user’s guide to The Spinoff

Over the past year, The Spinoff audience has grown dramatically. Founder and managing editor Duncan Greive explains what The Spinoff is, and how best to use it.

The purpose of this note is to welcome those new and newish to The Spinoff, to show you around and generally help you understand what we’re about. Our audience has significantly expanded over the past year, with pageviews up just shy of 130% versus the year before. If you’ve been around a while, much of this will be familiar, so feel free to tune out. But if you’re a relatively recent reader, here are some things to help you get familiar with The Spinoff.

What we are

The Spinoff is an independent, New Zealand-owned media outlet, founded in 2014 as a site covering New Zealand television, with a mixture of reviews, interviews and opinion. Over the years we have grown and expanded our remit to cover politics, business, culture and more. From the start we conceived of ourselves as a magazine – not aiming to be fastest, or across everything, but to have a recognisable style and scope. We want to publish content that is smart, accessible, sometimes provocative, with heart and, where appropriate, a sense of humour.

We employ 15 writers and editors, along with a network of freelancers, seeking out strong and diverse voices. We are nonpartisan – we have always and will continue to publish perspectives from across the political spectrum.

We explicitly aren’t trying to duplicate what’s already being done well by other media. We cover news through our email newsletter The Bulletin (see an example here, or sign up here), and our daily live updates, but aim to curate it rather than cover every story. Our core business is slower than news – features, opinion, analysis and reviews. Most importantly, we publish a far smaller volume each day than our colleagues at larger sites. We aim to put out 10 to 15 crafted pieces of content, versus the hundreds posted by the big publishers.

How we’re funded

The Spinoff is funded by a mixture of commercial content and advertising, and by its audience through The Spinoff Members. We launched Members in 2019, to help our readers contribute to our work, and have been blown away by the response. It’s no exaggeration to say that, post-Covid-19, we would not be viable without the support of our audience. In March of 2020 we hired our first fully Members-funded reporter, press gallery reporter Justin Giovannetti, the first of a number of staff members made possible by this support. Every dollar contributed by members helps us fund more independent New Zealand journalism – and Members receive surveys and newsletters which allow them to feedback to The Spinoff about our coverage and direction. If you’d like to know more about Members, or join up, read more here.

The other part of our income is commercial revenue, through businesses and other entities that partner with us to fund sections or content on the site. Where they have a role in a story, these are clearly labelled as “partner content”, and their advertising wraps certain sections on the site. (If you would like to talk to us about working with The Spinoff, please get in touch).

How to use The Spinoff

After becoming a Member, the best way to stay in touch with what we do is by downloading our app (for iPhone or Android) and by subscribing to one or more of our newsletters. The Bulletin is a cult favourite, with Alex Braae distilling the day’s key New Zealand news stories into a smart, readable email. What sets it apart from others is that it covers all the New Zealand media, not just The Spinoff, and is delivered with flashes of analysis to help make sense of it all. If you just want what we create, we have a daily and a weekly digest – subscribe according to your metabolism.

We also have an array of weekly and monthly podcasts, covering everything from politics to food, and a large selection of online video series, most funded thanks to NZ on Air. You can watch those on our site, or by following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We love social followers, but the usual caveats apply: the platforms are algorithm-driven and temperamental, so the best way to stay connected is through your inbox.

One last thing

We’re thrilled to have you here. Particularly our Members – this past year has been incredibly hard on our staff, as it has on all New Zealanders, who have had to adjust to covering the pandemic while processing its impact on their own lives. When Bauer Media fell, we all had friends who lost jobs, and it underscored again just how reliant we are on The Spinoff Members, both at an individual and organisation level, to be able to continue to do our work.

We cover culture, from pop music to books to prestige drama. We cover politics and business, from its impact on people to the behaviour of our biggest institutions. And we publish writing that takes a wry look at New Zealand, in all its complexity.

Not all of it is for everyone. Despite our founding as a TV site, we still get infuriated Facebook comments when we publish writing on reality TV (read it, it’s some of the best stuff we do). But we will aim to cover both the new New Zealand rising out of this extraordinary historical moment, and scrutinise the forces that shape us as a nation. Thanks for coming, and we hope you enjoy what you find. If you have any questions or suggestions, we’re always keen to hear from you: info@thespinoff.co.nz




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