Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dark Days

It's a pretty fraught time to be a journalist in New Zealand at the moment. Retrenchment, lay-offs, cut-backs, and redundancy are words with which we are all becoming too familiar. A wide range of broadcasters; TRN and Radioworks in radio, and Prime and TVNZ in television, are all in the process of shedding staff.

Or, as out bosses like to tell us, adjusting to the current economic climate.

90 staff are being axed at TVNZ of which around 20 are from news and current affairs. This follows on from cuts TVNZ made but a year or so ago when around 160 people were sent down the road. It's hard to see what fat, if any, there can possibly left to trim within TVNZ's news unit. How on earth they're going to cover morning news, the midday bulletin, the 4.30 pm bulletin, news at 6 and the late news, beggars belief. Add into that its commitments to TVNZ7 and its news service and one has to surmise it's an impossible task for those that are left.

But as bad as things are at TVNZ the situation at Prime News is far far worse. Its 5.30 news show already operated on a shoestring and, with no disrespect to those who work there, its quality always was well short of what it should have been. This is now going to go downhill double quick. From what I've been told the production, camera, and editing staff have pretty much been massacred. The show will now be piped out of Sydney based on the efforts of 4 video-journalists (three in Auckland and one in Wellington) and very limited production support.

Basically Prime News is now terminally fucked. There's absolutely no way they will be able to produce a credible news programme on those numbers. My suspicion is that their bulletin will either be cut in length, or canned altogether, within six months.

To all my colleagues out there who are now facing a fraught future. My sympathies are with you.

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