New Zealand Truth

Last updated

The New Zealand Truth
Format Tabloid
Editor Cameron Slater (2012–2014)
Political alignmentCentre-right
Ceased publication2013
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Website [ dead link ]

New Zealand Truth was a tabloid newspaper published weekly in New Zealand from 1905 to 2013.



New Zealand Truth was founded in 1905 by Australian John Norton in Wellington, as a New Zealand edition of his Sydney Truth , aiming a sensational blend of sex, crime and radical politics at mainly working class readers. [1] [2]

According to newspaper historian (and former NZ Truth journalist) Redmer Yska, English-born Norton was 'a combustible mix of tycoon, journalist, do-gooder and chronic, falldown pisshead.' [3] Norton was on hand on 24 June 1905 when the first copies of the 'Maoriland' edition rolled off the presses in Luke's Lane, an alley that still runs at right angles to Wellington's Courtenay Place. Inaugural editor, Australian Robert Merrick, claimed 40,000 readers by 1907, with circulation in 'every Miners', Gum Diggers' and Timber-Getter's camp'. [4] Three years later Frederick Dawson, a former editor of Norton's Queensland and West Australia editions of Truth took over. He would remain in the job until 1920. Norton meanwhile died of alcoholism, in 1916.

The leader writer (and, briefly, editor) from 1913 to 1922 was Robert Hogg, a Scottish-born journalist and socialist. [5] According to Yska. Hogg 'turned NZ Truth into a fiery and enthusiastic mouthpiece for revolutionary socialism'. That would change in 1922 when John Norton's son Ezra became the Sydney-based owner and proprietor, appointing a string of New Zealand-based editors. Under the populist Norton, the 'worker's paper' became the streamlined family-friendly 'national paper'. Norton's most successful editor was Australian Brian Connolly and over 16 years (1935 to 1951), he would return the paper to its working-class roots, albeit with a conservative streak.

In 1951, Norton sold out to a New Zealand consortium led by the paper's legal representative James Dunn and his former Scots College schoolmate Cliff Plimmer. Over the next few decades, the New Zealand owners would refashion NZ Truth into what Yska calls 'a shrill megaphone for a conservative establishment holding back political, social and cultural ties that increasingly threatened to sweep it away.' [6]

Over the decades, NZ Truth variously employed well-known New Zealand authors, including Robin Hyde in 1928. [7]

As in Australia, NZ Truth capitalised on unrestricted press coverage of divorce cases during its first half century, with court evidence of adultery cases given lengthy, invariably saucy treatment. In 1958, a Labour government passed a law restricting coverage to the bare bones of proceedings, removing a vital part of Truth's editorial 'bread and butter'. [8] In 1963, as revelations of a seamy British political scandal unfolded, audited circulation reached a peak of 240,000, and the weekly claimed a readership of a million Kiwis. But the advent of television in 1960, the decriminalisation of Sunday newspapers in 1963 and changing attitudes to sexual morality associated with the 'Swinging Sixties' were already shaking apart NZ Truth's world. By 1980, circulation stood at 150,000, but a move to Auckland headquarters in 1982 and a 'brighter' Truth and TV Extra failed. By the mid 1990s, circulation fell to 50,000, and in 2005, as the once proud and powerful weekly approached its centenary, plummeted to a once unthinkable 12,000.

Cameron Slater's involvement

At the end of October 2012, controversial right-wing blogger Cameron Slater was announced as the paper's new editor. He said in his new role he would be "kicking arse and sticking up for the little guy". His first issue was published that November. [9] As a result of his appointment, the paper's left-wing columnist Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury quit. Within six months of Slater's appointment it was announced the publication would cease production in July 2013, with Slater claiming it was "too far gone". [10]

Despite ceasing to publish a print version of the website, the publication continued to update its website until May 2014. [11]

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  1. Yska, Redmer (2010). Truth: The rise and fall of the people's paper. Nelson: Craig Potton Publishing. ISBN   9781877517303.
  2. "New Zealand and Pacific Newspapers and Magazines (University of Auckland newspaper holdings on microfilm)". Archived from the original on 14 May 2006.
  3. Yska, 2010, p. 15
  4. Yska, 2010, p. 19
  5. Gustafson, Barry (1980). Labour's Path to Political Independence. Auckland: Auckland University Press. p. 158. ISBN   0-19-647986-X.
  6. Yska, 2010, p. 144
  7. "Robin Hyde (Iris Wilkinson), 1906–1939". New Zealand Electronic Text Centre . Victoria University of Wellington. 2007.
  8. Yska, 2010, p. 125
  9. "Cameron Slater takes helm of Truth". 3 News NZ. 31 October 2012. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  10. "NZ Truth to cease publishing after 125 years – reports". The New Zealand Herald. 17 July 2013.
  11. "Archive of Truth website". 23 December 2014. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014.

Further reading