Ratepayers to fund local news website
A residents group is getting $6600 of ratepayer money to start a news website.
Former journalist Bruce Morris is behind the Mt Albert Residents Association’s yet to be named local news website, funded by the Albert-Eden local board.
Morris was a former New Zealand Herald deputy editor, Bay of Plenty Times editor and APN editor in chief.
Morris was setting up the website because he saw a gap in the market.
‘‘As each year has passed, the media are not concerned in what my neighbours are interested in.
‘‘This plugs the gap that, at the moment, is fed by social media and misinformation on Facebook.’’
Morris said publications available in the area were doing a ‘‘poor effort’’ in covering Mt Albert issues.
Albert-Eden local board chair Peter Haynes said the site would connect the community.
‘‘One of the key priorities of the board is to promote stronger communities,’’ Haynes said.
‘‘Traditional sources of news like suburban newspapers are withering away,’’ he said.
Media commentator Jim Tucker disagreed with Haynes suggestion that suburban newspapers were ‘‘withering away’’.
‘‘Free delivery papers go everywhere, which is a significant advantage as daily readership declines,’’ he said.
Tucker has worked as a journalist at a variety of publications and headed up journalism courses at AUT, Witt and Whitireia.
The challenge for Morris and his fellow volunteers would be turning a profit, Tucker said.
‘‘If this online site is going to rely on making money from advertising then I’ve got bad news from them,’’ he said.
The Mt Albert website, which will have a potential audience size of 20,000, is still in its design stage and would be run by volunteers including ex-Fairfax journalist Michael Field.
No other central Auckland board funds news websites. The group aims to make to make a profit through advertising which would cover operating costs and go towards community projects.