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Herald shows off its big H, as talk of paywall gets louder

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As the numerous press releases attest, the launch of the "smaller, but smarter and deeper" weekday New Zealand Herald is a pretty important step for APN NZ. And along with the new format, readers can expect to see a new masthead on 10 September—and, in the future, a bill for the online content they consume. 

“The new masthead was selected from more than a dozen potential designs and tested with readers who described it as bold, stylish and striking,” says Herald editor Shayne Currie (check out this video of the APN NZ big wigs, including Currie, Todd McLeay and Tim Murphy). “The new look incorporates our existing gothic masthead, acknowledging our 150-year heritage, while positioning the Herald as a modern, multi-media brand." 

The Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday mastheads and formats remain unchanged.

Last week it was announced the newly redesigned nzherald.co.nz wesbite would feature a New Zealand first social reader for Facebook. And, as hinted at by APN NZ's chief executive Martin Simons a while back, it's thought a paywall is currently under construction but it's unknown when that is likely to be implemented. 

When we spoke with Simons he said consumers already pay for news in print format, so it was a fairly simple equation: if publishers aren't making enough money to pay their journalists, it will either lead to a thinning out of journalism or a requirement to find another way. 

At present, business-oriented titles like the Wall St Journal and Financial Times are among the few that have made paywalls work, but Simons says that's often funded through corporates, rather than consumers. General news is an entirely different kettle of kaimoana and, after what some have called 'The Original Sin', where publishers started giving away their content for free online, it's proving very difficult to change that mindset, especially when other, often publicly-funded news sources keep dishing their content out for free. 

Simons said they were watching closely to see how News Limited's paywall around the Herald Sun works out in the very competitive Melbourne market and would also be watching closely when Fairfax erects its paywalls in Australia, which is set to happen in the middle of next year. 

It could certainly do with some extra cash. It announced last week that another 100 jobs were likely to be cut on top of "the 400 eliminated in the past three years" and, after what chief executive Brett Chenoweth called a tough first half of the year for the New Zealand publishing business, it's written its Kiwi assets down by almost A$500 million (metropolitan mastheads by A$480 million, regional titles by A$84 million and magazines by A$31 million) as part of an ongoing review of its assets. That leaves the carrying value of intangible assets in New Zealand at $200 million.

 

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