What will happen to APN?

An interesting report in the UK Guardian media pages yesterday (26 Jan) regarding Tony O’Reilly’s troubled Independent News and Media.

INM is a 39% stakeholder in APN, publishers of the New Zealand Herald. This stake was on the market, but INM has announced that it has given up on finding a buyer at the moment because of the shaky gobal financial system.

Globally the INM group is undertaking a series of cost-cutting measures which have already affected APN’s New Zealand titles, including The Listener, the Herald and a range of suburban titles, such as The Aucklander.

According to a statement issued by INM yesterday (26 Jan) the company is committed to shedding “loss-making” assets, but there is no indication of which parts of the company these might be. In Auckland APN staff must be wondering about their fate too. It seems that, for the moment, they’ve had a repreive.

The group’s UK assets, including the Independent, are also in a state of flux as a merry-go-round of moves in the UK newspaper industry continues. A Russian oligarch and former KGB officer, Alexander Lebedev, was able to buy the London Evening Standard newspaper last week for just one pound, which shows just how much of a crisis there is in news media assets.

Perhaps Mr Lebedev’s British staff will have to follow the example of reporters on his Russian paper, Novoya Gazeta,who have taken to carrying guns since a young journalist, Anastasia Baburova, was murdered in Moscow last week (21 Jan).

Anastasia Baburova, a journalist for the investigative newspaper “Novaya Gazeta”, and leading Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelovhuman rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov were shot by a lone gunman after a press conference in Moscow given by Markelov, report the Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF) and other IFEX members.

Markelov represented the family of Kheda Kungayeva, whose murder led to the first prosecution for the killing of a civilian during the Chechen conflict, is believed to have been the main target. He had just publicly denounced at the conference the release of Kungayeva’s murderer from prison.

Baburova, who reported on the conflict in Chechnya as well as on the activities of neo-Nazi groups in Russia, had attended the press conference and was talking to Markelov outside a Moscow metro station when the gunman opened fire. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Baburova was shot in the head as she tried to prevent the killer from escaping and died a few hours later. [IFEX.org]

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