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Stuff decision bad for primary industries

Posted: May 18, 2018

The decision by Stuff to close its nationwide portfolio of farming publications is bad news for the staff affected, for this country’s primary industries and the public, said Elaine Fisher, president of the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

“The closure of NZ Farmer and its four associated titles affects the jobs of 12 of New Zealand’s most experienced agricultural journalists, who have consistently provided readers with an informed insight into the industries of farming, horticulture and life on the land,” says Fisher.

“It is believed these journalists will have the opportunity to apply for just three positions Stuff has available for the rural pages of its daily newspapers and its website. That leaves nine journalists to look for other employment.”

Stuff announced on Wednesday the closure of 15 community and rural titles, plus the sale of a further publication, saying it is continuing “to shed smaller publications in pursuit of a stronger digital publishing strategy”.

The Guild understands the other rural publications affected are Canterbury Farmer, Central Districts Farmer, Waikato Farmer and Otago Southland Farmer.

“The journalist, sales and support staff affected by this decision must be hurting as they have lost job security after working on what have been well-read and respected publications which appear to have been making money for the owners.

“It is concerning to read that Stuff considers its website news platforms to be more important than print media for the rural sector. Rural connectivity is so bad in some places people can’t even call 111 let alone read an online newspaper,” says Fisher.

“I know farming publications are retained in households for days if not weeks and read and discussed by several family and staff members.

“Farmers and growers need to be well-informed and they need journalists who know their industries to ask the hard questions of government and industry on their behalf, especially right now with the issue of the disease mycoplasma bovis in dairy cows and the threat of an invasion of the brown marmorated stink bugs hovering over horticulturalists.

“Farmers and growers also need journalists who can tell the good news stories of what’s happening on the land, presenting a more balanced picture of our primary industries to the urban public.

“The Guild wishes to express its sadness and support for all those journalists, sales people and support staff affected by the Stuff decision.”

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