Next 'Citytalk' last after axing

City Talk magazine. Photo supplied.
City Talk magazine. Photo supplied.
The next issue of the Dunedin City Council's quarterly magazine Citytalk will be its last, after it received the chop in a review of council communications.

New council communications and marketing manager Graham McKerracher said the magazine would be replaced with some other form of communication from the council to the community, but exactly what that would be was yet to be determined.

He said the decision to cease producing Citytalk was part of an ongoing review of how the council communicated with Dunedin residents.

Mr McKerracher was appointed this year to lead a restructured council communications unit tasked with improving the council's transparency and consistency with its messages and and ensuring the council better communicates with the community.

Citytalk was cut because the format was outdated and staff had no way of telling how many people actually read the magazine, Mr McKerracher said.

His team had about three months to report to senior management with options for replacing the magazine.

The council wanted to have more of an electronic presence, but also realised it needed to retain some way of getting the information to everyone in the city, including residents who might not use digital technology.

The future of the magazine, which is sent to all ratepayers, was raised during annual plan deliberations last week, when Cr Lee Vandervis, responding to a submission from Syd Adie which called Citytalk a "glorified staff magazine", called for the magazine to be axed.

"It's so out of touch with the world, it's embarrassing ... Let's get rid of it," Cr Vandervis said.

Savings of about $20,000 could be made "right now", he said, but council strategy and development general manager Sue Bidrose advised councillors that removing the funds from the budget might leave them with no money for communicating with their constituents.

Citytalk was under review and the next issue would be the last anyway, she said.

Various options for replacing it were being considered, one idea being to run a few pages in local newspapers, as the Wellington City Council did in the Dominion Post, she said.

Mr McKerracher said the end of Citytalk did not mean anyone would lose their jobs, as there still had to be some form of communication.

Citytalk was funded in large part by advertising, and he would be looking to retain that support for whatever form the new communication took, he said.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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