Matt Nippert - witness (but not Jehovah's), Auckland

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Not a restful day

Reading recent history, and by recent I mean 19th century, the boom and bust cycle is truly staggering. By all measures, New Zealand is presently in a boom, with unemployment rates the lowest in 20 years, and a crime rate at a similar historically low level. Does anyone remember the early 90s, when things weren't so good? (Not me, I was busy learning to smoke over by the stopbanks bordering Hutt Valley High School.)

This state of affairs is no more obvious than in the media. Advertising dollars, truly a luxury expense boosted out of proportion during a boom, have been sufficient to see massive investments in the industry. There have been industry-wide redesigns, and the launch of Lucid, Fuse and AucklandMax. Then, of course, there's the impending launch of the Sunday Herald. (If it weren't for the Sunday Star-Times' aneurysm-inducing "magazine" supplement, it should simply be called Sunday. But more on this later....)

At the Eastern Translations art exhibition at Kuja Lounge last night, where Asian-New Zealand artwork was displayed in front of Tiger beer and Japanese hiphop, I heard from several sources yet another new magazine is to be launched: Merge - an Asian version of pop-Maori bible Mana. Sketchy details so far, but I'll keep you posted.

Before the wake gets underway for the much-maligned Fuse, I'd like to take this opportunity offer balance and talk of the positive (Note, I'm not talking plural.) Simon Pound, probably the most interesting read in the whole rag, will be reduced to bleating from bloggerland like so many quality voices.

With the loss of his lead hand in a spectacular barroom accident he was hoping to survice on writing. With a pittance a week, sandwitched between content aimed at an even lower than usual newspaper denominator, he wasn't a happy man. Consider yourself outed.

But back to the Sunday (Herald). Industrial dispute has reached fever pitch, with APN insisting that the new publication is not at all a part of old granny (hence the parentheses). Herald (proper) staff have decided to strike and not work on the new publication which is mainly composed of poachings from the SST and Herald (proper) defections.

Where will you hear news of this? Not in the Herald (proper), for sure. This presents real problems, such as who will report industrial action? While Fairfax might feel glee at the employment ructions of their rival, they don't want to encourage their own staff to adopt similar tactics. Guess it's left to cafe chatter, gripes at the London Bar, posts on Scoop ... and blogging.

D-Day approaches, with the new newspaper launching this weekend. Apparently columnists at the new paper have been emailed, letting them know what sort of shitfight they're getting themselves into. Expect counter-suit to follow the suit the union is laying over Employment Relations Act breaches. While columnists Damian Christie and Deborah Coddington are certain to go head-to-head, will old-skool unionist Matt McCarten show up to the APN party? Either way, it will speak volumes.

Until, of course, the next depression where new publications find themselves going under regardless of quality as corporate expenses focus on necessities instead of luxuries. The cull is going to be cruel, but until then, I'm loving my Roaring Twenties.