Veteran newsman Rick Neville leaves APN for lobbying role

One of New Zealand's longest-serving editorial managers starts part-time at the Newspaper Publishers Association.

One of New Zealand's longest-serving editorial managers, Rick Neville, has taken early retirement from his role as chief operating officer for the local operations of APN News & Media to become a lobbyist for the newspaper industry.

Neville, 64, took up the part-time Newspaper Publishers Association role after leaving APN at Easter, in a restructuring, much of which Mr Neville said he had overseen in the past in roles at Independent Newspapers (now Fairfax Media) and APN, where he worked for nine and a half years after a stint with News Ltd in Australia.

A former editor of the Nelson Mail and Evening Post newspapers, he says there is "a chance to leave on good terms", having just completed the conversion of APN's regional newspapers to morning, tabloid-sized formats over the last 18 months.

APN has divested community newspapers in Wellington and all its South Island titles in the last year as the company seeks a new business model at a time when the newspaper industry and journalism are struggling with the impact of digital media on traditional, advertising-based models.

Mr Neville says he believes newspapers still have a future.

"They are important to the well-being of society. They still lead the news each day, I believe. It's difficult in a fragmented market, but newspapers will be here for a while yet."

At APN he planned the launch of the Herald on Sunday, managed APN subsidiary NZ Magazines and headed the teams that established APN's centralised subbing and layout operation. He also set up the APNZ national news service.

His part-time role as editorial adviser at NPA involves counselling on a range of activities, including media freedom issues, media in courts, lobbying, general industry questions and the Canon Media Awards.

He took up his new role on April 11.