The departures of Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings from their respective roles as the editor in chief of the New Zealand Herald and head of news at MediaWorks were both mourned as casualties of the changing media landscape.
However, the social media anguish seems to have been pre-emptive.
Earlier today, Jennings and Murphy told StopPress that they were launching a media consultancy called Jennings/Murphy, which would provide strategic media assistance to businesses or individuals looking for advice across editorial, video production, strategic comms and media.
The pair will shortly launch their new website, and Jennings invites those interested in their services to approach them.
With decades of experience between them, countless contacts and inside knowledge of the challenges facing modern media companies, the pair do seem well suited to providing strategic advice for corporates struggling in this space.
The launch of the consultancy does not, however, imply that the newsmen have departed journalism for good.
In addition to starting this business, the pair also unveiled—cue widespread journalistic cheers—plans to start a news site together.
“We are hoping to develop a home for quality news journalism here that will hopefully fill the gap from which mainstream media has withdrawn a bit,” says Murphy.
Sounds a good plan. Good luck to them.
Murphy says the aim is to develop a site that’s led by editorial judgement rather than web analytics. “We’ve got to turn away from clicks to clocks,” he says quoting a speaker at the recent International News Media Association Awards in London.
“We certainly don’t think there’s a market for something that’s dull or unworthy either. We’re not interested in setting up something that’s straight-laced niche play. It’s got to be broad and it’s got to have high appeal.
“There will be news, current affairs and investigations. And it will be about communicating in a more conversational way than traditional news.”
At this point, Jennings steps into the conversation and reminds me that the website hasn’t launched yet.
“I was smiling when Tim was saying, it’s going to be this and it’s going to be that, because we’re not off the ground yet,” Jennings says.
Like Murphy, he does, however believe there’s a clear gap in the market for the type of stories they’re hoping to tell.
“There’s constant feedback coming to us, with people saying, ‘Why can’t we have this sort of news? Why do we have to scroll to the bottom of Stuff or NZ Herald to find the stories we want? We don’t want the car crashes, we don’t want the Bachelor stories and we don’t want the lost dogs.’.
And half the stories on the main sites seem to be from overseas newspapers, but you only discover that at the very end.