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By Alana Musselle of Te Waha Nui

Cook Islands News, the national newspaper for the Cook Islands, is one of many Pacific news media agencies expecting change in the face of New Zealand’s NewsHub closure next month.

The organisation has content-sharing agreements with traditional NZ media organisations including Stuff, New Zealand Herald, RNZ and TVNZ, and is dependent on them for some news relevant to their readers.

Cook Islands News editor Rashneel Kumar said that NewsHub, New Zealand’s second major television news and website which CIN did not have an agreement with, was still an excellent source of extra context or additional angles for the paper’s international pages, and its absence would be felt.

Cook Islands News editor Rashneel Kumar
Cook Islands News editor Rashneel Kumar . . . “NewsHub was a really good alternative in terms of robust and independent journalism.” Image: APR screenshot FB

“You can understand the decisions that were taken by the owners but at the same time it is really sad for journalism in general,” Kumar said.

“What it does is provide fewer options for quality journalism.

“Media like NewsHub was a really good alternative in terms of robust and independent journalism.”

Cook Islands News is in the process of signing a new share agreement with Pacific Media News (PMN), which is hiring a former NewsHub reporter of Cook Islands descent.

“This will boost our coverage because the experience he brings from NewsHub will be translated into a platform that we have access to stories with,” Kumar said.

‘One positive effect’
“So that is one positive effect of the closures.

“We see the changing landscape, and we must adapt to the changes we are seeing.”

Pacific Island countries consist of small and micro media systems due to the relatively small size of their populations and economies, resulting in limited advertising revenue and marginal returns on investment.

Associate professor in Pacific Journalism and head of journalism at the University of the South Pacific Dr Shailendra Singh said what was happening in New Zealand could also happen in the Pacific.

“This advertising-based model is outdated in the digital media environment, and Pacific media companies, like their counterparts worldwide, need to change and innovate to survive,” he said.

CEO of Cook Islands Television Jeanne Matenga said that the only formal relationship they had with overseas agencies was with Pasifika TV, but that NewsHub’s closure meant they would no longer get any of their programmes.

“As long as we can get one of the news programmes, then that should suffice for us in terms of New Zealand and international news,” she said.

All major Pacific Island media organisations are already active on social media platforms, and are still determining how to harness, leverage, and monetise their social media followings.

Newshub is due to close on July 5.

Republished from the Te Waha Nui student journalist website at Auckland University of Technology. TWN used to be a contributing publication to Asia Pacific Report.

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