Auckland Council will come under much closer scrutiny next year, when a project funded by NZ on Air starts in February.
Beacon Community News is one of six independent Auckland newspaper publishers to be involved in a two-year trial, which involves employing one journalist to cover Council meetings for the group.
Beacon’s John Subritzky says the business of Council and its Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) such as Auckland Transport has a huge impact on the lives and communities in the north.
“When the Whau became part of the supercity, and the council chambers moved from Waitakere to Queen Street, Council’s decision-making processes and the players involved became distanced from our newsrooms,” Subritzky says. “Council has a well-oiled communications team to put their messages out, but what this new position will do is allow us to give our readers a more independent view of Council, its spending and its performance.
In 2020/21 alone, Council had a planned capital investment programme of more than $2.5 billion plus another $40 million on transport.
Mr Subritzky says that a dedicated reporter who learns to understand and interpret council plans and budgets will be an incredibly valuable resource for our papers, translating complicated policies into everyday language that readers can comprehend and digest.
“None of the papers involved could have, on their own, justified employing a journalist fulltime solely to cover Council, but thanks to this funding we will once again have our own eyes and ears in the chambers.”
The other newspapers involved are Devonport Flagstaff and Rangitoto Observer, Gulf News Waiheke, Howick & Pakuranga Times and Botany & Ormiston Times, Pohutukawa Coast Times, Mahurangi Matters and Hibiscus Matters.