Bob Jones: The end is nigh

Professional mourners outside Achilles House, NBR’s premises

Here’s a laugh. As some of you may know, Glasgow has lots of wide pedestrianised avenues in the heart of the CBD.

In the busiest lies an Apple computer store outside of which, all day, stands a bloke holding a large sign. It reads “Don’t come in here for your Apple repairs. 50 yards that way”, this followed by an arrow “is X store and we are cheaper”.

Imagine that here. It’s trickier because unlike the rest of the world, our cities have not embraced pedestrianisation, thus our CBD pavements are terribly crowded.

I particularly fancy the thought of someone outside a restaurant with a sign telling customers, “The food inside is rubbish. Eat at X’s restaurant across the road. It’s better and cheaper”.

Or holding a sign outside a law firm’s offices, pointing potential clients to a rival’s location for superior and cheaper service. That would certainly give the Law Society joyous opportunity for their specialty, namely full pomposity exhibiting, in dealing with the inevitable outraged complaints.   

The end is nigh

On that note, someone could stand outside National Business Review’s office holding a sign reading, “The end is nigh”. There’s been a “book” going for 3 months now in Wellington, on how much longer it will survive. When it opened with six punters, the bets ranged from September to Christmas for the final edition.

NBR’s now down to a tragic 24 pages and perpetually cost-cutting, has dropped the share-market tables, surely a pre-requisite for a business weekly.

My own revised pick is four more print issues then, as Ian Smith is fond of saying, “it’s all over red rover”.

The latest Todd Scott tantrum has seen the departure of the two Wellington Press Gallery staff plus another out of Auckland, this a madness innovation by Scott late last year. In protest at the appalling treatment of staff Brent Edwards has now resigned.

Can it carry on as an on-line subscription vehicle? In my view no as the content volume simply isn’t there. It’s scarcely The Times which was the UK’s first on-line subscriber newspaper.

The Herald is bravely having a go soon, pioneering a paywall and I wish it well. But it needs to tidy up its sloppy presentation, particularly when compared with the Stuff site, which at least is orderly.

Next year would have marked NBR’s half century. It’s had a richly entertaining history up until the time, when on death’s door, it was sold for a dollar to Barry Colman who pulled it all together into a highly respected weekly, then sold it to Scott. As is evident, Scott is totally unsuitable for this role, and in particular, being an employer. To repeat; the end is nigh and all the infantile ranting by its proprietor can’t fight the inevitable, which seemingly faces all print media.

Articles by Bob Jones are usually for silver and above subscribers. This article has been published outside of INCITE this week at the request of Bob.

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Sir Robert ‘Bob’ Jones — now New Zealand’s largest private office building owner in Wellington and Auckland, and with substantial holdings in Sydney and Glasgow, totalling in excess of two billion dollars — is a property investor, author and former politician, who has written fiction as well as books on property investment, selections of his newspaper and magazine columns, and reminiscences of former prime minister Robert Muldoon.

While at Victoria University of Wellington, he earned a ‘blue’ in boxing and contributed to a boxing column in the university’s newspaper Salient. A multi-millionaire, Jones earned his wealth through investments in commercial property via his company Robt. Jones Holdings Ltd. He founded and led the New Zealand Party in 1983. In 1989 he was made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in received the New Zealand 1990 Commemorative Medal.

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