Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Click off: How digital has disrupted New Zealand sports journalism

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posted on 2021-12-08, 10:43 authored by Stutchbury, Greg Michael

This thesis examined through a political economy framework how New Zealand’s two largest newspaper chains, Fairfax and NZME, have been impacted by the advent of digital technologies and the effects these have had on the practice of sports journalism. Digital technology, falling revenue and increasing pressure from financial owners have all played a part in the restructuring of both Fairfax and NZME’s editorial news operations, especially in the last five years as both companies transitioned to a ‘digital-first’ environment.  Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 senior journalists who had knowledge of the transition from a print to a digital focus. These interviews highlighted the strategies adopted by both companies as they faced a challenging and evolving marketplace. They also underlined the internal tensions within newsrooms between not only journalists and editorial news managers but also the digital and print operations.  Despite the belief that digital technologies would make the print news media more collaborative and provide greater diversity and plurality, the opposite has occurred. Sports reporting remains highly routinised, coverage diversity is shrinking, and greater control is now exerted by editorial managers over the production of journalistic content. Digital technologies have also impacted the forms of content, with decision making on editorial content and resourcing now strongly influenced by data analytics, although there was still strong resistance to greater interactivity with readers. The relationship between sports organisations and print news media organisations, while considered in theory to be a symbiotic one but in reality, is an area of conflict, has also further deteriorated as sports organisations introduce significantly greater control over the media agenda. An element of this control has also heightened tensions with sports organisations moving into the digital space and competing directly with print news media organisations.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Media Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970120 Expanding Knowledge in Languages, Communication and Culture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies


Thompson, Peter