Ratepay­ers to fund lo­cal news web­site

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - CA­TRIN OWEN

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.

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