John Roughan, editorial writer and columnist for the New Zealand Herald, and participant at The Civics and Media Project Workshop 2 has shared his observations on news media in 2030 with us. John speaks about the possible implications of no daily news media by 2030 and how the internet may be the way forward for civic engagement. Below is John Roughan’s observations:

‘If we cast our minds forward 15 years to 2030, it is quite possible daily newspapers and broadcasted news will not exist. That has two implications:

1. News gathering resources will be much reduced. Website advertising cannot support the reporting staff that newspapers and TV newsrooms used to employ.

2.  News will no longer be a “public” experience in the sense of a local newspaper or a national TV evening bulletin that everybody is aware of. News will be received on private screens from self-selected sources and shared on a network of friends or like-minded people.  This, I think, has unknown implications for civic participation.  It will be a world of intersecting networks with no single public noticeboard. People may lose the sense of “knowing what everybody knows”, which is where politics happens.

I am not a social media user, so I don’t really know whether they offer any civic experience, but whenever I attend seminars on new media, we quickly end up debating the merits of the local newspaper or the television news channels.  That suggests to me that social media is not giving its users a common reference point of its own. Social media seems to still need old media for that common reference point, as well as for the news gathering that is still done. In fact news that happens on social media does not seem very important unless it is picked up and printed or broadcast by old media – or is that just when I become aware of it?

I don’t think this lack of a civic experience, a common reference point, a political noticeboard in 2030 will be solved by public broadcasting, which seemed to be the view at the Auckland seminar I attended.  Public broadcasting, no matter how well funded, will always be too dull to attract most people’s interest. I think a state-funded newspaper would be just as bad.

One young guy in Auckland was talking about how websites might be used to fill this gap. I didn’t really understand how that would work, but I can’t think of anything else that can do it. The internet is the civic platform of the future and we have to find a common reference point there, somehow.’

John Roughan for blog


John Roughan
Leader Writer, Columnist
New Zealand Herald

About The Civics and Media Project
The purpose of The Civics and Media Project is to inform and encourage public discourse and engagement regarding civics and media, with the ultimate aim of informing decisions by individuals, industry and institutions across society. The project is an initiative the Institute is working on with Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland, New Zealand On Air, the Royal Society of New Zealand, and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. To learn more see the website.

About Workshop 3
Workshop 3 will build on the outputs from Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 and develop the vision: To ensure all New Zealanders in 2030 have an accurate understanding of the world they live in, and the ability and skills to bring about change. It will involve collecting ideas in the morning from a diverse range of speakers and then working in self-selected groups in the afternoon to develop a workshop booklet that proposes a way forward. This workshop will be held in Wellington at the Royal Society on 19 November 2015. If you are interested in attending, email us at