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Friday
Jul262013

Vale - 'Peninsula Press'

Before getting on with accumulated posts, it is with considerable regret that I note the passing of the 'Peninsula Press'.

Dramatics aside, yesterday marked the last edition of what has been an extremely brave attempt to combat the forces of darkness in this and other community's around the Peninsula. Clearly the economics of publishing a paper in the face of the established Hauraki Herald that has dominated advertising in the District ever since the demise of competitors decades ago was a pretty futile exercise. John Isdale indicates that in his memory, a monopoly existed from long before the advent of the HH led to the demise of the Thames Star.

Gary Bulling's fraught relationship with TCDC was evident from the start, and neither the policies of his previous editor, or my contributions assisted with overcoming this handicap. Leach was adamant that no recognition should be given the Press from the start, and his henchman - Ben Day was a willing participant in the policy of simply ignoring the Press both in regard to hand-outs and advertising. No small town newspaper can operate in this climate, and the demise of the PP was inevitable, unless Gary had unlimited resources to continue to subsidise its production. The excuse that it could not advertise with the PP because it was not a member of the Newspaper Proprietors Association was a total smokescreen. 

The forces that operate behind the scenes in this town are well known, and I don't think that Gary quite understood what he was up against. Those that have had it to themselves and who control the media here will relish this outcome, and meantime the residents of Thames in particular will continue to face a wall of silence from within the mushroom cave.

A grossly expanded public relations division at the Council is a poor substitute when it comes to exposing the misinformation, and downright distortion that emerges on a daily basis through the new-found advantage of a professionally maintained and widely read website. It is incumbent on everyone who is able to bring to bear  sceptical and critical faculties in order to combat this 'soft-soaping' self promotion to keep at it. 

In the meantime, my condolences go out to Gary and Jessie who for so long have attempted to carry the flag. I make no apology for any of the columns that I wrote for Gary on a regular basis over the last year and a half - they may have contributed to antagonism on the part of the Council, but I don't think for a moment that they were instrumental in the demise of the paper.

I realise that it is a faint hope, but if only someone with deep pockets was prepared to take up from where Gary has left off, it would perform a great service for this town.

 

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Reader Comments (3)

I disagree. As Peninsula Press's first editor, we were building a good relationship between PP and Council. Like State and Church, there has to be a two way communication - not just an outlet for specific columnists and others to (freely) vent their self-serving spleen at will. Agreed, deep pockets will be needed to hitch up another 'independent' news outlet, particularly when Fairfax are announcing huge cuts to newspapers in all parochial regions; up to and including the Thames District. If you know of any 'deep pockets' without holes who could resurrect one of the finest graphic designers and newspaper-enthusiast enterprises in the country, direct them to Gary Bulling. Or perhaps Bill Barclay himself could throw some positive management effort, experience and financial contribution their way. Yeah, right ...

July 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Toms

Thank you Christine - good to hear from you.
Clearly your editorship was well intentioned, but the outcome remains. I simply did what all good columnists do - provide a point of view. You and your successors failure to provide any other is hardly my fault. And for your information, Gary asked me to contribute - not the other way around. Facts can easily get in the way in the 'blame game'.
As you say, even the future of the HH is in doubt, but it is in any case of dubious value.
As for providing the means - a bit beyond me I am afraid. Not sure about the "yeah, right" - I have quite enough fun thank you running a blog, and no financial commitment. Running a newspaper is a major undertaking, even with the best graphic designer, newspaper enthusiast in the land, and frankly I doubt if there is anyone with the resources and 'balls' to take this on. I wish there were.
Clearly we both agree that this is a sad day for the District.

July 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

It is sad that a potentially good local newspaper has been unable to survive, not because some businesses chose not to advertise, but because many who did failed to pay, forcing rates up, and inevitably, reaching a point of no return. An unkind economy has seen one business close every month in Thames, to be replaced by yet another takeaway, $2 shop, or second hand store.

Some of the ones that have closed left behind a few bills.

None of those new places advertise, they just open the doors and wait.The emasculation of the economy in Thames has been far greater then elsewhere, and the guardians of the community have only just become aware of the situation. A third of the local population are beneficiaries in care, add a third who are superannuitants, and it's easy to see why businesses can't keep going. Thames has lost the Tuesday Herald, and the Friday edition is created in far off places with loads of boilerplate copy, and advertising for two local councils that few read, a problem that those who create the fuzzy images are very concerned about.

The Hauraki Herald owner took out all but a couple of local staff, and has ongoing advertising because most are on annual contract. The rollover of those contracts will determine the future of the Hauraki Herald, and while they endeavour to 'look' local, the reader response is down, as any advertiser will tell you.
The Peninsula Press was always a good read, and a platform for local opinions, whether you agree with them or not. The ads were the best looking in a local paper and consistently better than a lot of expensive ad agency layouts.

But you can't beat the numbers.

There never was any advertising from Coromandel, or Whitianga or Tairua or Whangamata because the Coromandel district is now a series of small gulag's once served and dominated by Thames but thanks to better roads and better communication most of the business from the district is done in Hamilton or Auckland.

Property owners have been raped and pillaged by successive councils to the point where people selling up in Auckland where the market is unbelievably bouyant are relocating elsewhere.

Insurance company reluctance to cover homes built on reclaimed land and flood plains or land subject to erosion, and the general poor condition of the housing stock, have helped to migrate home ownership into rental propositions with household incomes the lowest of any region in New Zealand.

Pitching a local newspaper in a falling economy was braver then brave, and certainly deserves better than a playground spat over who wrote what and who was to blame.

There won't be any celebration in any of the local media houses as a result of this. The business owners won't be to happy either. Lack of competition means prices will go back up.

The demise of the PP was possibly inevitable, but the paper would never have been started if a number of people had not indicated that they would advertise at such a level as to keep the paper alive.

Some kept their word and some didn't. It seems that's the way they do business in these parts, which may be why things are as bad as they are.

Perhaps voting for Strat Peters plan to rejuvenate the Thames economy may be not such a bad idea.

But we do need someone younger and more alert to run the meetings.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Jeffares

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