Scoop Foundation Trustee’s:
I’ve worked on and off as a journalist and broadcaster for close to 30 years. In the ‘90s I helped set up City Voice newspaper – an independent Wellington weekly. One of our teaser billboards read: Voice Breaks: Monopoly Broken. In hindsight the “monopoly broken” line was over-stating things. At the time there were two daily papers in Wellington, The Listener was twice the size, community newspapers were full of ads, and Radio New Zealand had journalists in at least four more provincial cities than it does now – in short journalism was in far better space than it is today.
If the proposed merger between Fairfax Media and NZME goes ahead New Zealand will end up with the most concentrated daily newspaper ownership of any democracy.
The advertising model of funding journalism is broken and with the likes of Facebook and Google dominating the online advertising market it seems unlikely to ever be resurrected. Journalism is in crisis and a crisis in journalism is a crisis of democracy.
As newsrooms downsize and journalists have less and less time to pursue stories, Scoop is well placed to help fill the gaps being left by an under-resourced, predominantly profit-driven media.
Scoop’s press release service provides a useful resource for all those wanting to see the unadulterated spin being produced by an army of former journalists employed as propagandists by both the public and private sector. A distressing number of those press releases end up appearing, virtually unchanged, as news in our media.
But Scoop is far more than simply the website of record of the country’s press releases. Gordon Campell’s superb columns in Werewolf, Wellington Scoop, Business Scoop The Scoop Review of Books, and Scoop’s parliamentary reports provide a valuable addition to the media landscape.
And with its large readership Scoop is well placed to do much more. The ethical paywall looks like being a success and with time it could end up not only funding the press release service but subsidising the production of real journalism as well. The commissioning of Alison McCulloch to write a series of of articles on mental health is hopefully just the beginning.
But if we want a journalism that’s not driven by clickbait, that’s free of corporate control and which is responsive to the needs and interests of its consumers then we’re going to have to start paying for it.
To my knowledge this is the first time a media company in New Zealand has actively sought members and offered them a chance to help prioritise what news is worth investigating. It’s a democratic solution to a democratic crisis.
I am the Chair of the Trustees and also the oldest trustee. I represent those many supporters who grew up in a world where sharing reliable factual information was a function of the mainstream media. I want to protect that function in the online world.
Dashing through my life, it includes history and law degrees, early marriage, one daughter, three sons, life overseas, Christchurch and Wellington, a cluster of grandchildren, various legal positions over 30 years, culminating in several years in the Law Commission. I saw that last position as the pinnacle because I am passionate about enhancing our hard won freedoms, the rule of law, and democracy – and that requires ongoing, consultative law reform relevant to changing circumstances, along with a Government that respects our heritage.
I see easy access to independent, trustworthy, factual information as a vital part of that heritage. From my husband I also learnt a lot about the parallel need for openly sharing and reviewing scientific information and its public good application. We observed a gradual narrowing and monetizing of research generally, and less ability to access public good information for decision-making.
Our son Alastair was a co-founder of Scoop from 1999 and I became more involved with the company after my husband died unexpectedly in 2008. At the same time the climate for an independent media organisation became harder. The Foundation is not quite a year old; we are few with a long way to go – but we are on the upward path.
Alastair Thompson is the co-founder of Scoop. He is of Scottish and Irish extraction and from Wellington, New Zealand. Alastair has 24 years experience in the media, at the Dominion, National Business Review, North & South magazine, Straight Furrow newspaper and online since 1997. He is the winner of several journalism awards for business and investigative work.
If you are interested in volunteering as a Trustee for the Scoop Foundation email the Trustees at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.