The 13th Floor’s Tim Gruar covered the launch of the book Don’t Dream It’s Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Here is his report:
Thursday night saw the release of a new book about the state, and future, of journalism in New Zealand. At a special book launch and panel discussion held at the New Zealand School of Film and Television pioneering publishers Freerange Press, in conjunction with the Whitireia Journalism and Broadcasting School, presented Don’t Dream It’s Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The book is a collection of short essays by 34 writers, including Peter Arnett, Brent Edwards, Mihingarangi Forbes, Toby Morris, Paula Penfold, Morgan Godfery, Simon Wilson, Sara Vui-Talitu, It covers a huge range of topics from future funding models to the changing face of music journalism. The latter, written by RNZ reviewer Nick Bollinger even includes references to this website, 13thFloor.co.nz. In fact, Nick was in attendance. I briefly caught up with him, where we discussed his piece and his observations on the rise of the zine and blog as a way of catering to niche musical and cultural tastes but also to his disappointment of mainstream media to really acknowledge and report on local bands and music, except for the bigger players and the occasional noteworthy exceptions.
The panel discussion, chaired by thewireless.co.nz’s Tess McClure, featured several contributors to the book including former Sunday Star Times editor Cate Honoré Brett, Freelance crusader Nicky Hager and Peter Griffin, founding manager of the Science Media Centre and editor of Sciblogs. Discussion flowed freely across the fluctuating delta of print digital media, the challenges of maintaining integrity in the face of new advertising and corporate pressures and new opportunities for financing journalism in the future. The latter, in particular, garnered plenty of debate. One idea to percolate up was the concept of imposing a levy on electricity, broadband and mobile data charges to fund some of the costs of journalism. The other idea was a user pays model, which encourages financial elitism and limits access.
Nicky Hager raised questions of integrity and the need for independent journalism an independent voice to challenge government and big corporates when necessary. He also noted that investigative journalism was always going to be a labour of love and despite whatever funding models writers who were passionate about their work would always find a way to publish.
New ways of working and reporting was also popular, rolling off the back of the RNZ/TVNZ collaboration on the recent Panama Papers headline stories and the exposure of bloggers who choose to live in the back pockets of Government Ministers and officials.
Don’t Dream It’s Over is the latest multi-author book from the independent, cooperative publishers of Christchurch: The Transitional City and Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch. This was a collaborative project involving writers from many different walks of life discussing recent projects and policies in the light of the city’s rebuilding. The project was so successful that it became the template for future books, like Don’t Dream…which offers a virtual 360 view of where the media has been and where we’re heading.
Don’t Dream It’s Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand is available from Unity Books and http://www.projectfreerange.com/