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The Fold (Image: Tina Tiller)
The Fold (Image: Tina Tiller)

MediaDecember 24, 2020

The Fold: The wildfire that was 2020 for New Zealand media, reviewed

The Fold (Image: Tina Tiller)
The Fold (Image: Tina Tiller)

The pandemic put unbearable pressure on New Zealand’s media this year, but also saw it gain larger and more engaged audiences than ever before. Duncan Greive wraps his head around what it all means.

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For the final 2020 episode of my media podcast The Fold, I tried to capture the sweep of this incredible year by drilling into the news organisations, journalists and other players in the ecosystem. Broadly it felt like a year in which, under some of the most extreme duress imaginable, journalism rediscovered its purpose, and both the public and government felt that too.

So for an hour I went solo, taking the monopod format and going deep on the following topics:

  • Google and Facebook’s epic battle with Australian regulators, and what that means for New Zealand.
  • Sinead Boucher and Stuff’s triumphant year, from buying the company for $1 to the historic apology and everything in between – while still having questions over its future.
  • The contrasting strategy of NZME, which is clearly more focussed on business than editorial at this point.
  • The continued rollercoaster that is Sky, which started the year by buying Lightbox and ended it by losing its CEO (while gaining a very promising new one).
  • A holding pattern for RNZ, which tried to change and found New Zealand’s most powerful NIMBYs camped on its lawn.
  • TVNZ deftly using its dominance to huge advantage – owning the local space, becoming the unquestioned winner of the free VOD platforms and positioning itself to be the main player in the suddenly-back-on RNZ/TVNZ merger.
  • A series of coups for Mediaworks, selling the TV arm to Discovery and installing Air NZ’s Cam Wallace as CEO of the new radio and outdoor company.
  • The unexpected vitality of the indie media space after the collapse of Bauer.

It’s all hyper-nerdy, but if you are, tragically for you, into this sort of thing, then there’s a solid hour of me talking at you about this heart attack year for our media. Merry Christmas, I guess?

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