One daily paper for HB
Hawke’s Bay’s two daily newspapers are to merge into a single regional paper in April next year.
Publishing company Wilson and Horton today announced plans to close the Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune and the Daily Telegraph and to replace them with a new evening newspaper.
The new paper would be based in Hastings, but about 30 staff would be based in Napier.
About 60 of the two papers’ 250 staff will be made redundant.
The new regional paper, which has yet to be named, will be edited by Jim Eagles, currently editor of the Bay of Plenty Times in Tauranga, who formerly worked for the National Business Review.
Company executives outlined the merger proposal to staff at both papers at 9am today.
Ron Hall, general manager of Hawke’s Bay Newspapers, a subsidiary of Wilson and Horton Newspapers, said the decision to merge the two dailies to create a single new paper, had followed extensive research “and review of local community needs”.
“We wanted to be sure we were in tune with local thinking and what we found was that there is considerable demand for a single paper.”
Mr Hall said Wilson and Horton was “extremely committed” to the Hawke’s Bay and the decision was for the future, not the past.
“Both Napier and Hastings have been splendidly served by their respective newspapers for over 100 years, but the future needs a new strategy to ensure the local papers continue to deliver value.”
He said the move would help the company and its advertisers offset the general economic and rural downturn in the region.
The new paper would be based in Hastings but would also have a “strong presence” in Napier.
Mr Hall said staff in Hastings and Napier would be equally affected by the move as it did not discriminate against either newspaper.
A new press building is to be built behind the Herald-Tribune’s Karamu Rd office and would take up to five months to build.
“The reason for the long lead-in time is to enable us to construct a new building for the upgraded press which we will be commissioning for the paper,” he said.
Mr Hall said it would be “business as usual” until the launch of the new paper.
New editor Jim Eagles is a former editor of the National Business Review and deputy editor of the Auckland Star.
Current Daily Telegraph editor Louis Pierard would take over from Mr Eagles at the Bay of Plenty Times, Mr Hall said.
Mr Eagles said the chance to play a part in the launch of a new daily newspaper was rare and he was honoured by his appointment.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union media officer Adelia Hallett said the union would try to negotiate voluntary redundancies.
She said the 60 people to lose their jobs would find it hard to get work in the region.
Both papers had redundancy clauses in their contracts, Ms Hallett said.
Union journalists’ advocate Tony Wilton said it was sad when newspapers with long histories closed, particularly when they provided jobs and good service to their communities.
He said the union was unaware either paper was making a loss.
Ms Hallett said there was quite parochial attachment to both papers with the Daily Telegraph barely selling in Hastings and the Tribune making little mark in Napier.
Union members would hold a joint meeting to discuss the announcement at 3pm today.
She said the former owner of both papers, NZ News, had proposed closing the Napier operation and printing both papers in Hastings about 15 years ago, but a petition and letter writing campaign had helped change the company’s mind. However, she doubted whether this latest decision could be overturned.
Photo caption – The Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune general manager Mr Ron Hall addresses staff at today’s meeting in Hastings
New Editor award winner
Jim Eagles, who will be the editor of Hawke’s Bay’s new regional newspaper, is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most experienced and respected journalists.
He is presently the editor of the Bay of Plenty Times in Tauranga which this year was named New Zealand’s best newspaper for those with circulations under 25,000.
Mr Eagles, who began his career on the New Zealand Herald, is a former editor of the National Business Review and deputy-editor of the former Auckland Star.
He has also owned and edited two award-winning community newspapers and has worked on newspapers in Ireland – where he won a Hibernia Award for investigative reporting – and England.
Mr Eagle is a member of the New Zealand Press Council, a member of the editors’ committee of the Newspaper Publishers Association and the New Zealand Executive of the Commonwealth Press Union.
General manager of Hawke’s Bay newspapers Ron Hall said he was really pleased at the prospect of having Mr Eagles at the helm of the new paper.
However, his appointment was not a reflection on the work of the two existing editors James [Morgan of the Herald-Tribune or] Louis Pierard of the Daily Telegraph.
“Both James and Louis have admirably served their respective papers. However, we felt it was important to make a fresh start by appointing someone outside the region with new vision and ideas and we believe that in Jim eagles we have one of the best editors in the country.”
He said Mr Pierard had been appointed to take over from Mr Eagles at the Bay of Plenty Times. Mr Morgan would in due course cease to be the editor of the Herald-Tribune.
Mr Eagles, who is moving to Hawke’s Bay at the end of the month, said he was honoured to appointed editor of the new paper.
He said the chance to play a part in the launch of a new daily newspaper did not come along very often.
“It’s the sort of thing journalists dream about. The fact that it is Hawke’s Bay, an area I already visit frequently, makes it even better. “In 25 years’ working in newspapers, this is the most exciting project I’ve been involved with,” he said.
“The challenge of setting up a new newspaper in Hawke’s Bay means there is the chance to produce something really special which truly represents the whole [region].”
Photo caption – Mr Eagles