NZ Media was already in trouble. Then Covid-19 came along. (image: Toby Morris)

The Fold podcast: Covid-19 is smashing NZ’s media just when we need it most

The Fold podcast returns for March into a media world transformed by the impact of Covid-19. Host Duncan Greive records a monopod to assess its impact.

In last month’s edition of this podcast, The Spinoff editor Toby Manhire and I discussed RNZ’s Concert debacle. At the time, it was the biggest story in media; now it seems, like so many things, a quaint concern from a different time. The impact of Covid-19 has been so vast that there is no other news agenda – simply ‘how the virus is impacting X’. Even Thursday’s decision by the Christchurch mosque terrorist to change his plea to guilty had a notable Covid-19 dimension, as his victims were largely unable to face him in court – and thus what would have been the biggest story of any other month felt like it flashed by.

Yet for all the global pandemic’s power as an engulfing news story, it’s the impact on the media business I discuss on March’s The Fold. There’s a huge paradox in its relationship to the media, in that all of us are seeing record ratings, which in normal times would lead to big revenue spikes – but because almost no client is advertising, the opposite is happening. Journalists are working harder than ever, serving bigger audiences than ever, but the bottom is falling out of the business in a completely unprecedented way.

It’s also making our work different: instead of being in our podcast studio in Morningside, I recorded it under a towel at home. And instead of a guest, I simply relayed my own thoughts. Literally everything has changed in our society now, and the media has had a supply, demand and operational shock up there with the best of them.

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