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Journalism roles are being slashed in NZ. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Journalism roles are being slashed in NZ. (Image: Tina Tiller)

MediaMarch 18, 2024

How many journalism jobs are left in Aotearoa?

Journalism roles are being slashed in NZ. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Journalism roles are being slashed in NZ. (Image: Tina Tiller)

In the wake of mass layoffs at Newshub and TVNZ, one question has been on everyone’s lips, and Madeleine Holden set out to answer it the old-fashioned way.

Originally published on March 18; updated April 10.

Following the monumental announcements about proposed job cuts at Newshub and TVNZ last month, all my colleagues started murmuring the same question: how many of us (journalists) are left in the country now?

The trajectory before the current wave of job losses was already pretty dismal. In the 2018 census, for example, the number of people who recorded their profession as newspaper or periodical editor, print journalist, radio journalist or television journalist was 3,381, down from 3,525 in the 2013 census and 4,071 in the 2006 census, and there have been significant layoffs in this perpetually turbulent industry since 2018. But my best guess, based on surrounding reporting, is that around 235 journalism jobs have just been axed at Three/Newshub and TVNZ. It’s an enormous blow to the dwindling number of working journalists in this nation, which is… what?

The latest census data will be released next month, but it will be immediately out of date, given the data was collected in March-June 2023. So I took matters into my own hands and decided to find out the old-fashioned way: by emailing every single media outlet in New Zealand that might reasonably be expected to employ at least one (1) journalist and quite simply asking them how many journalists have jobs at their organisation. 

I know, I know. How could I possibly capture everyone? What seemed like a simple task at the outset turned into an incredibly stressful, stye-inducing quest: deadline looming, I would be tallying up the final number when someone in the office would pipe up with, “What about [obscure local newspaper/niche magazine]?”, sending me hunting frantically for contact details and adding row upon row to the spreadsheet. I have almost certainly forgotten some media outlets that should have been on this list, for which I preemptively apologise. I did, however, give it my absolute best shot to include as many as possible – I really do have a stye to show for this – and I think the data I have gathered is comprehensive and interesting, even if it isn’t perfect.

As for who counts as a “journalist”, I cast the net fairly wide. defines it as a person who “researches and produces stories for websites, print, radio, television and other media”, and that was a good enough working definition for me, so I didn’t limit the list of organisations to hard news outlets and included more “lifestyle”-focused publications like New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, Cuisine and Kia Ora. I did, however, exclude product catalogues (eg Hunting & Fishing), industry and trade publications, and magazines that are primarily advertorials for their owner companies (eg Habitat by Resene). 

The full list, in case you would like to point out any glaring omissions or quibble with my decision, is as follows (NB: titles owned by parent companies are included within that organisation’s count, and the list is in no particular order): The Spinoff, Stuff, NZME, TVNZ, RNZ, Warner Bros Discovery, Sky, Whakaata Māori, Newsroom, NBR, Are Media, Allied Press, Metro, NZ Geographic, Home, HERE, Pacific Media Network, E Tangata, Coconet, Crux, Ashburton Guardian, Greymouth Star, Valley Profile, Waatea News, Gisborne Herald, Beacon Media Group, Wairarapa Times Age, Westport News, Wairoa Star, School Road, Fashion Quarterly, Indian Newslink, Local Matters, BayBuzz, Pantograph Punch, Global HQ/Agri HQ (Farmers Weekly), NZ Classic Car, The Shed, SCG Media, Guardian NZ, Cuisine,, Readers Digest, Mindfood, The Motor Caravanner, Oh Baby, NZ Trucking, Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations, Farm Trader, Lifestyle Magazine Group, Mediaworks, Top South Media, Devonport Flagstaff & Rangitoto Observer, Mahurangi Matters & Hibiscus Matters, Gulf News & Waiheke Weekender, Good Local Media Group, Atiawa Toa FM, Awa FM, Kia Ora FM 89.8, Maniapoto FM, Moana Radio, Ngā Iwi FM, Ngāti Hine FM, Radio Kahungunu, Radio Ngāti Porou, Tainui Live, Tautoko FM, Radio Waatea, Raukawa Vibes, Tahu FM, Te Arawa FM, Te Hiku Media, Te Korimako o Taranaki, Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, Tūmeke FM, Tūranga FM, Tūwharetoa FM, Craccum, Salient, Debate, Canta, Critic, Nexus, 95bFM, Radio One 91FM, Radio Control 99.4FM, RDU 98.5FM, RadioActive 88.6FM, Aukaha Regional News Service.

I asked the above outlets to provide the total number of FTE journalists employed at their organisations, ie permanent employees, not freelancers/contractors, and to include staff like editors and producers who contribute journalistic work. Other than that, the definition of a “journalist” was for the recipient of my email to determine. 

In a heartwarming turn of events, the vast, vast majority of media outlets were responsive to my request and transparent about their numbers. For the small number of organisations that did not respond, I made an educated guess by using the information on their website, LinkedIn sleuthing and texting people who work there.

At this point I already had a very good picture of the overall number of journalists in Aotearoa, but my method left the snag of independent journalists, eg anyone making a living from their Substack newsletter, plus the problem of freelancers. Given the spirit of the inquiry was to get a sense of journalism jobs in New Zealand, I made the decision to only include those Substack journalists I could reasonably guess were making a sustainable living from that work. Based on an internal tool provided by Substack showing the top 10 New Zealand publications, plus a bit of Spinoff inside baseball, I made an educated guess that that number is no more than four, and maybe only one. 

One final disclaimer before I give you the juicy number. In 2020, the introduction of the Public Interest Journalism Fund changed the media landscape considerably. The $55m fund, made available by the government and administered through NZ On Air, created 219 new journalism jobs. The fund is now closed, and while my headcount is based on today’s numbers, it’s worth noting that we can expect a further decline in the total number of journalists as the remaining PIJF roles come to the end of their contracts. According to NZ On Air, of the 219 roles funded by the PIJF, about 200 are still being funded by NZ On Air or by the news organisation. However, several media organisations I spoke to indicated that current PIJF employees on fixed-term contracts would not be having their contracts renewed. 

So without further ado, my best guess, based on the above process, of the number of journalists working in Aotearoa before the job cuts announced today is 1,674.

Following the slashing of jobs at Newshub/Three and TVNZ, that total will be around 1,439 – a decline of almost 15%.

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