The New Zealand Herald has a new editor, with Murray Kirkness joining the team this week.
Formerly, Mr Kirkness was the editor of the Otago Daily Times, where he worked for 15 years – eight of those years as editor.
With the pace of changes in the industry, Mr Kirkness saw the move to the Herald as a good opportunity to broaden his experience.
“The news industry in general is in a really interesting position, it has been for a while now. I just thought it was a good opportunity to learn different things at a different company,” he said.
Reflecting on his term at the Otago Daily Times, Mr Kirkness said he took great pride in its involvement in the community.
“We were a paper that at different times challenged the community, championed the community, fought for the community and campaigned on the community’s behalf,” he said.
“There’s a lot of different examples of how we did that. We were an advocate in every sense of the word for Otago and the south.”
While he looks forward to his time at the Herald, leaving the Otago Daily Times was not an easy decision to make.
“It’s a great newspaper and great company to work for. It was a tough decision to leave. It’s very highly regarded in its marketplace; a very reasoned and reasonable paper,” he said.
Deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times Barry Stewart, who is currently acting editor, believes the paper’s campaign to save neurosurgical services in Dunedin was Mr Kirkness’ most outstanding achievement.
“He showed brilliant leadership in that, and led community meetings, spoke to rallies. We had a march in the city, which was all stemmed from the ODT’s involvement,” he said.
“In the end, we did save the services in Dunedin, and it was that kind of campaign in journalism that we don’t see a lot of.”
Mr Stewart will miss Mr Kirkness’ sense of humour the most.
“He had a wacky sense of humour; he made the newsroom very lively. We had a lot of fun, and we’re going to miss him a lot,” he said.
Sir Julian Smith, chairman and managing director of Allied Press, the publisher of the Otago Daily Times, is sad to see Mr Kirkness go but wishes him well.
“We’re sad to lose him, but when one door closes another one opens. So, if you get a new perspective and a new look, it is probably not a bad thing for all concerned. We wish him well,” he said.
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