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Newshub closure: Freelancers, contractors also set to lose jobs but weren’t in ‘all-staff’ meeting

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The number of people losing work following Newshub’s closure could be higher than initially suggested, as freelancers and contractors were not included in this week’s job cut estimate.

A source told the Herald freelance workers weren’t invited to this week’s all-staff meeting where the company made the shock announcement that Newshub was set to close at the end of June.

Dozens of high-profile presenters and journalists such as 6pm news hosts Mike McRoberts and Samantha Hayes and new 7pm show frontman Ryan Bridge are among the hundreds about to lose their jobs.

Earlier this week it was reported up to 350 people work at Warner Bros. Discovery in New Zealand, about 200 of them understood to be devoted to news, in editorial, commercial and backroom roles.

A slimmed-down company might see only 50 staff remain, one source has suggested.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) laid out the plans to close Newshub at an all-staff meeting at 11am on Wednesday.

However, the Herald has learned freelancers and contractors were not invited to attend or dial in.

One source said they did not believe the freelancers and contractors were included in the “350 jobs” number mentioned.

“They were not invited to the meeting on Wednesday,” said the source.

“Some were not rung and advised of the closure by their respective boss, or rung much later, and found out in distressing third-hand ways.

“They will not receive redundancy.”

“Please spare a thought for the many freelance workers at Newshub. Many have worked for several years at Newshub and have loyally stepped in to work numerous back-to-back days to cover for permanent staff off sick over recent years.”

Another second confirmed freelancers were not included in the meeting.

But, they said it was “standard practice [for freelancers] not to be involved in anything like that”.

The Herald has approached Warner Bros. Discovery for comment.

From left: Paddy Gower, Karen Rutherford and Charlotte Foster leave the Newshub offices after staff were told of a proposal to shut the news business. Photo / Dean Purcell
From left: Paddy Gower, Karen Rutherford and Charlotte Foster leave the Newshub offices after staff were told of a proposal to shut the news business. Photo / Dean Purcell

Freelance Wellington journalist Demelza Leslie said she was aware of the meeting – but only because she had a company email address.

“I did know about the meeting as I was sent an invite by WBD … I’m not too sure if other freelancers received this invite or not. I suspect not, unless they had a WBD email,” she said.

“However, I missed the meeting as I was in another meeting from 10.15 to 11.15am and so hadn’t noticed the email come in at 10.13am.

“[I] read about the announcement online. It was pretty gutting to find out about it online.”

Leslie said senior management told her they’ll still be using freelancers and “may need them more in the next few months as staff jump a sinking ship”.

She said the prospect of work was a relief but overall she was “absolutely devastated about this situation”.

Presenters Ryan Bridge and Mike McRoberts leave the office after a meeting where Newshub employees were told of the impending closure of the business. Photo / Dean Purcell
Presenters Ryan Bridge and Mike McRoberts leave the office after a meeting where Newshub employees were told of the impending closure of the business. Photo / Dean Purcell

Last night it was revealed a group of senior Newshub journalists will meet next week to discuss a proposal to present to Warner Bros. Discovery in an effort save their news operation in some form.

Investigations reporter Michael Morrah told the Herald that the announcement made on Wednesday by international owners Warner Bro. Discovery to completely close Newshub’s operations by the end of June was a “bombshell”.

“When the email came out, that certainly caused quite a lot of alarm and confusion within the newsroom and people didn’t really know what it meant,” Morrah said, referring to the email calling for an all-hands meeting at 11am Wednesday with WBD Asia-Pacific president James Gibbons and Newshub boss Glen Kyne.

“I thought that it would mean the demise of possibly a couple of shows or some cutback somewhere.

“I never envisaged that they would propose cancelling the entire news operation, including digital platforms.

“We thought there’d be some trimming, not kind of a wholesale axe to the entire operation.”

Jaime Lyth is a multimedia journalist for the New Zealand Herald, focusing on crime and breaking news. She began working under the NZ Herald masthead in 2021, as a reporter for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei.

Anna Leask is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers national crime and justice. She joined the Herald in 2008.



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