After years of courting, we’re partnering up to share content and make new cool things together. The Spinoff publisher Duncan Greive explains.
Today The Spinoff and Stuff are excited to announce a new partnership, commencing right now. The basis of it is content sharing – it means that what we make on The Spinoff will sometimes run on Stuff, and even (if it’s really good) in their network of fine newspapers and magazines. You might also see the odd Stuff story running on The Spinoff, which we’re super stoked about – they are the country’s biggest employer of journalists and have some of our very best.
What’s most exciting is not the content sharing, though – it’s all the things we haven’t yet figured out. There are plans to collaborate on projects and learn from each other. Already Stuff’s podcast team come up to our studios and work with The Spinoff Podcast Network. We think there’s heaps more we can do – we share a vision of a collaborative media ecosystem, and think it fundamental to survival in an era where big tech takes well over half of every digital advertising dollar.
More than that, we feel philosophically aligned. Since Sinead took that brave leap and Stuff became New Zealand-owned again, you can sense a profound change in its approach. Everything from its decision to quit Facebook, to Tā Mātou Pono and its decision to become a B Corp – they all suggest a different centre of gravity to the business when it was Australian-owned. Even our donation models have a similar thrust. In the interests of transparency, they also pay us a fair fee too, which is really helpful as we navigate increasingly difficult times for post-pandemic journalism.
Joanna Norris, Stuff’s very smart and cool head of content, has these kind words to say about us and the new relationship: “The decision to partner with the team at The Spinoff came easily. We greatly admire their unique take on issues that are important to New Zealanders. The Spinoff team have a tone of voice and approach to story-telling that ensures every piece of content they produce is relevant and relatable, without shying away from tackling big social and cultural issues.
“We also admire their feisty approach to building a sustainable media model from the ground up – that takes pure guts. Duncan and the team have built an impressive and credible model. They work every day to earn and keep the respect of their members and advertisers and we are honoured to be among their supporters by helping amplify great stories to the widest possible audience.”
One thing we need to make very clear: we remain entirely independent organisations, and The Spinoff is still very much its own thing – everything from our editorial operations to our offices to our shareholders remain unchanged with this contract. That doesn’t mean we’re not excited to be doing this – but it’s important for our members, our audience and our clients to know what does and doesn’t change out of this.
It also means the end of our relationship with NZ Herald, which has syndicated our content on and off since 2015. We remain very grateful to them for that confidence in us, and firm friends as organisations. The private sector media in New Zealand is a thinning herd. One stat that might shock you: in 2006 there was one journalist for every 976 New Zealanders. By 2018, that ratio had changed to one for every 2,377 New Zealanders, thanks to the devastating impacts of the tech giants. Since then we’ve seen multiple rounds of redundancies, and that number is likely to worsen still.
This is why we have to stick together. Particularly those of us in the private sector media, left out of the thrust of the RNZ-TVNZ merger. While we compete every day for scoops and to have the best analysis, we also need to find ways to collaborate to survive.
Because the backdrop is arguably as perilous as it has ever been. The merger means public sector media has an extra $100m a year to spend on its people and products. There’s a recession hurtling down the pipe. And so far our attempt as an industry to collectively bargain for a fair deal with the tech giants has been resisted every step of the way, despite them signing deals throughout the Australian media ecosystem.
For all that, today is a great day for us at The Spinoff. We’ve watched Stuff’s evolution with admiration over the past few years, and have found working with their senior team (particularly Joanna Norris and Sinead Boucher) to be revelatory in terms of the way we view one another. We’re excited to see where this all goes. We’re grateful to Stuff for loving us for who we are, and our audience (particularly our members) for trusting us to make the right calls as we navigate the most perilous stretch in media history.
Duncan Greive, CEO & publisher, The Spinoff