In episode two of The Spinoff’s newish media podcast The Fold, host Duncan Greive conducts an exit interview with Hal Crawford, the departing head of Newshub.
Hal Crawford landed into a TV3 newsroom in crisis in 2016. Campbell Live had been axed. Hilary Barry had resigned. He had been hired by Mark Weldon, the much-reviled CEO who had overseen a transformation at MediaWorks, from a news-first organisation, to one whose schedule was increasingly dominated by reality TV – but Weldon himself resigned before Crawford even started.
He was born and raised in Perth, cutting his teeth in print before going on to lead 9MSN, at once the most-read news site in Australia, and one away from the swaggering centre of Australia news media. At TV3 he had a brutal learning curve, coming from a purely digital newsroom out of the public eye, to lead a TV-centred team with big stars and personalities. He oversaw the nascence of the Newshub brand, the launch of The Project and The AM Show and an increasingly desperate atmosphere as he and his CEO Michael Anderson pleaded for government intervention to save the channel and newsroom.
So far, no dice – the channel is officially for sale, and while there are rumoured to be a number of strong bidders, no announcement has been forthcoming. Crawford describes his time there was essentially a long series of crises, but almost grew to enjoy the adrenalin of it.
Beyond MediaWorks, we discuss the rise and evolution of Facebook, whether ad-funded media has a future and what has happened to TV ratings over the past 10 years. Few people in our media are smarter, or speak more freely – listen below or through your favourite podcast provider.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.