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The decline and fall of local body reporting


Jeremy Rose for Mediawatch on an important issue

What happens if a local council has a debate on democracy itself and nobody reports it? No, it’s not a Philosophy 101 conundrum – it’s what happened earlier this year when Hutt City Council reviewed the way councillors and community boards were elected.

With the hollowing out of the country’s newsrooms over the last couple of decades it has become increasingly common for local body meetings to be journalist free zones. And things are only likely to get worse with media companies announcing cut-backs with a grim regularity. 

This week Stuff confirmed that 19 journalist positions in Auckland and Whangārei were being axed in its latest round of cuts. 

The 2001 census reported there were 2277 journalists working in New Zealand but by 2013 that number had dropped to 1527. 

And as journalist numbers have dwindled the numbers working in communications and advertising have swelled. For every journalist employed in 2001 2.3 people were employed in communication or advertising roles by 2013 there were 12,480 people working in communications and advertising – a ratio of 8.2 for every journalist in the country. (More in the linked article)

The article is well worth reading and the links are useful.

This issue needs some serious debate.

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