4 September 2013
The looming death of Learning Media has many lamenting the potential demise of the School Journal – one of the great cradles of New Zealand’s literary talent, and a staple of education for generations.
I certainly remember many hours spent in the school library reading back copies of the Journal, as will many New Zealanders.
Nostalgia is important in shaping our national values and character, but it does not pay the bills. In today’s competitive publishing environment, it was virtually inevitable that Learning Media’s fate would come to this. But that should not mean the consequential death of the School Journal, and nor should it be allowed to happen.
This situation highlights an ongoing challenge modern governments face in ensuring the effective modern provision of established services. The fact that different delivery methods are required should not mean that those services are simply abandoned or cancelled, because times have changed.
While resuscitating Learning Media seems impractical, the opportunity now exists for the government to enter into a new partnership with a commercial publisher for the ongoing publication of the School Journal in either hard copy or electronic form, to ensure its survival.
Yet too often debates about these types of issues degenerate into patch protection issues, from which no-one wins. The bottom line is simple: we want the School Journal to continue (no-one seems to be questioning its value) and we need to find the best way of doing that.
This is a managerial not a political issue, and will be not be resolved by chest-puffing and grandstanding, but by a simple focus on securing the best way forward for the School Journal so it can continue to enrich, delight and inspire generations of school children into the future.