Bernard Hickey's Interest ties not cut completely – the whole story
Business commentator Bernard Hickey is not cutting all ties with interest.co.nz despite plans to set up his own online public news service.
Interest.co.nz publisher David Chaston says his high-profile managing editor Mr Hickey and the face of the financial news website – who some people thought owned the show – will maintain a role as a contributing editor once his latest news venture starts.
Making it easy for Mr Hickey to wear two hats, and for content to be shared across the two websites (particularly when it comes to his specialty topics such as housing affordability and monetary policy) Mr Hickey will continue to work from Interest’s Herne Bay offices.
“There will be plenty of intersection,” Mr Chaston says.
Mr Hickey is unlikely to continue regular television and radio commentary spots on behalf of Interest, but will still support its sponsorship relationships and contribute his ‘Top 10’ and BNZ-sponsored ‘90 seconds at 9am’ columns.
“I don’t think a lot of the readers will notice the change,” Mr Chaston says.
Despite industry rumours Mr Chaston has been touting for a buyer, Interest is not officially for sale.
“I’m not actively looking for anybody. People knock on the door sometimes,” he says.
“I see no reason for me not to be bounding out of bed in the morning.”
Mr Hickey announced the November launch of his non-for-profit, public interest news website journalism.org.nz over the weekend.
“Journalism.org.nz will be a place where the public supports and helps build journalism in the public interest,” Mr Hickey says on the website’s Facebook page.
He says an editorial board, which could involve members of the public, will work with the public to do “citizen” or “crowd-sourced journalism”.
And Mr Hickey will employ as many journalists as he can to report on areas not covered by traditional media.
“That means investigative probing, enterprising and explanatory journalism, rather than celebrity-driven churnalism and PR.”
NBR ONLINE understands a possible bankroller for the new website, launching in November, could be Selwyn Pellett, a Labour Party backer who made his millions selling out of software company Endace (Mr Hickey later told NBR, that Mr Pellet was providing technical and legal support only).
Mr Hickey is also asking people to buy memberships to the website from $100.
Yesterday, he told Radio New Zealand’s Media Watch programme there were stories “dripping off trees” for the new venture.
He will be looking for as many people to support journalism.org as he can find, and acknowledged there was a risk of relying on one large donor – if they lost interest or wanted to make the site a vehicle for their own views.
Mr Hickey’s comments about the mainstream media have been debated on a Facebook page for journalism.org today.
“Fundamentally, Bernard also needs strong media to be the platform for his stories (or co-partner) so it probably doesn't pay to blankly run down MSM (main stream media) as purely providing sugar fixes,” veteran New Zealand Herald columnist Fran O’Sullivan says.