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How New Zealanders get raw deal from international media
Posted on 31-Mar-2016 07:12 by Bill Bennett. | Tags Filed under: News.


When Appleís iOS 9 landed, a new Newstand folder appeared on the first screen. Inside were four options: The New York Times, Businessweek, the Australian and the New Yorker.

Whatever their merits, none is a natural choice for New Zealand readers.

Itís the latest example of how international media doesnít think for one moment about New Zealand needs.

Sure, this is only a small country. Weíre the last stop on the few international air routes that reach these islands.

There arenít many of us.

You can see why we might be overlooked in the boardrooms of New York, London or Cupertino.

Our business is only a rounding error on the balance sheet of global giants.

Foreign publishers want your eyeballs, not your brains or engagement

And yet, international publishers want our business.

They want our eyeballs to view their advertisements. Theyíd like to earn New Zealand dollars for their print or paywall subscriptions.

They want us. Sometimes they even pay lip service to woo us. They often list New Zealand as a market they service. Yet when it gets down to considering our needs, weíre lucky if we rank as a bolt-on to Australia.

In practice this is more annoying and frustrating than ignoring New Zealand altogether.

The Guardian

The Guardian is a good read and an alternative voice that stands out from the pack. Itís one of the worldís top online news websites. Thereís intelligent coverage of international issues that you might not find elsewhere in the English-language press.

While the headquarters are in the UK, The Guardian now has editions in the US and Australia.

As it turns out, this is a problem. When you load The Guardian app or go to The Guardian website, New Zealand readers are, by default, sent to the Australian version.

The Australian edition fills gaps in that countryís media. From a parochial Australian point of view it does a reasonable job. If you want to know about domestic Australian issues youíre well served.

Little for NZ readers

But thereís little in the Australian edition of The Guardian for New Zealand readers. Itís not even the best place to get a big-picture view of whatís happening across the Tasman. Nor is it great on Australian business news, which can often be relevant here.

And anyway, itís not as if local media ignores Australia. Fairfaxís Stuff is often packed with Australian stories. Sometimes Stuff selects the most relevant Australian stories for New Zealand readers. But not always.

As an aside, Stuff is guilty of running overseas stories as if they were local copy. There is often no hint in the headline you are about to read foreign material.

Thatís because Fairfax is another foreign media company. Given the companyís investment in New Zealand, it can have a deaf ear to our needs. But thatís another story.

Almost every New Zealand reader choosing The Guardian will be looking for international news, the cultural pages, sport or long-read features.

A few weeks ago the Australian edition led with a story about Bendigo Council. That might be relevant to five or six people in New Zealand, but whoever makes editorial decisions for the Guardian served it up here anyway. Nothing better illustrates that no thought has gone into what we get.

To be fair to The Guardian these annoyances can be fixed. You get around the problem by registering, then choosing a different edition. The app also allows you to change the fixed home page in its settings.

In the great scheme of things The Guardianís hamfisted approach to New Zealand readers isnít a big deal, but it illustrates how foreign media companies marginalise our country, culture and identity.

PC Magazine website

For much of the last 25 years or so PC Magazine has been a great resource for serious PC users. It takes a professional line and largely focuses on business and productivity.

I was managing editor of both the New Zealand and Australian editions of the magazine when ACP printed seperate versions in both countries in the 1990s.

Today PC Magazine is online only. Thereís a US parent website and a satellite in Australia. They donít look the same and they donít have the same content, nor do they serve the same advertisements.

New Zealand readers are forced to the Australian site. Most of the time this doesnít matter. While the Australian site may feature products that are not on sale in New Zealand, online shopping means locals can usually fill in the gaps.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 8.27.16 PM

This doesnít always apply. PC makers like HP might sell similar, but distinct version of their laptops in Australia and New Zealand.

Guess which countryís versions never get written about in the Australian PC Magazine?

Some reviews and features donít make it from the US edition to the Australian site. There have been times when Iíve seen glimpses of the story I want on the US site in, say, Google search. Clicking the link takes you to a generic Not Found page on the Australian site.

The automatic redirect is draconian. Iíve tested it, not methodically or scientifically, but enough to understand that it detects your location and redirects.

Type an explicit US URL, youíll get redirected. Find something through search that is only on the US site and youíll get redirected. Change browsers, or browser settings and youíll still get redirected. The only way you can be sure of reaching the US site is with a VPN.

Presumably this redirection is all about serving up NZ eyeballs to Australian advertisers.

In the past PC Magazineís main rival was PC World. For years PC World published in New Zealand. It was the last big local technology publication to sell on bookstands.

PC World

PC World New Zealand still exists. It has its own URL. What it doesnít have is any New Zealand content or flavour. It only just manages to have any New Zealand relevance.

You can take it as read the front page of the .co.nz site is identical to the .com.au website. A few recent visits confirmed that.

PC World New Zealand

Last night two of the four main stories on the front page slider were dinky-di Australian:

  • Labor MP slams Turnbullís NBN as Aussie broadband speeds fall behind
  • Win 2 tickets to Call of Duty World League in Melbourne
Thereís nothing wrong with this, but passing off the website as PC World New Zealand is, at best, dishonest.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 8.08.51 PM

Youíll notice from the Google screen shot you can read stories by PC Worldís Auckland staff. The top, presumably the most recent, story there is How to buy Ö a Digital Camcorder from 2006.

This is treating New Zealanders with disrespect. Itís not in any way a New Zealand site.

 

This story was first posted at billbennett.co.nz


Filed under: Media Tagged: magazines, publishing



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