Georgina Bond has a very good article at NBR on the demise of Truth.
Truth rejuvenation became too hard â HortonÂ [Republished with permission]
Plans to rejuvenate theÂ TruthÂ newspaper became too hard, causing its publisher to call time on the struggling tabloid yesterday.
Horton Media chief executive Matthew Horton told NBR ONLINE work had been afoot to restructure the weekly paper over the past six months.
Initiatives included a deal with Countdown to post the paperâs presence in its supermarkets and selling off one of its websites.
Reformatting plans were also in the pipeline to do away with some of the adult content and related advertising to makeÂ TruthÂ more of a âstandard newspaperâ, Mr Horton says.
âBut at the end of the day all these deals took too long and were too hard.”
Mr Horton, who owns a 50% stake inÂ Truth, says the newspaper had continued to lose ground with advertisers and readers over the last few years.
âIt had taken a very seedy turn over the last five years and I think that probably cost the paper a lot of sales. Â
âI always felt the paper needed much more political leaning to it. Itâs just a shame that we werenât able to muster the resources required to make that happen.â
Management changes earlier this year, when original owners handed over the reins to the Crow brothers David and Steve, had been disruptive.
âI guess a combination of all those factors, while trying to get back on track and settling in a new editor, really left the paper in a difficult position.
What Mr Horton describes as âchat room vilification” ofÂ TruthÂ editor and Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater and the paperâs general manager Russell Beaumont âÂ laying blame for the closure at their feet âÂ was âtotally unfairâ.
A lot of energy
âCam brought a lot of energy to the business and if weâd found them earlier in the piece things might have been different. They are good guys who probably represented the direction the paper should have taken a lot earlier.
âCam was certainly under an enormous amount of pressure to put out a paper every week.â
Mr Horton saysÂ TruthâsÂ debt was not insurmountable âÂ ânot in the hundreds of thousandsâ and not the fatal blow.
âIt was more our assessment of what we would have had to put into the paper to resuscitate it, than what it had accumulated that was behind the decision to close.”
Neither Horton Media orÂ TruthÂ co-owner Dermott Malley wanted to put in new risk capital, he says.
âIt could easily have swallowed another half a million dollars in order to beef up editorial resources.
âFrankly, given the state of the newspaper industry, youâd have to wonder who would sink that into a small paper likeÂ Truth.â
He acknowledgedÂ Truthâs closure is a sad day for the newspaper industry â the end of an era for a 126-year-old title and New Zealand icon which, in its early days, was the countryâs most colourful and leading tabloid.
âBut, frankly, in the context of other closures in other industries over the years, timber plants and paper plants, itâs a very minor event.
âObviously, weâre sad and wish for a different outcome.â
Additional NBR reporting on Truth