February 17th, 2014

Mike Fletcher, Director of NZ Journalists Training Organisation (now Competenz), to retire.

“It’s time to go fishing, seriously,” he said. “I have been in journalism for 53 years. I have had a great run- but it is time to retire.”

Mr Fletcher began working has a reporter in Auckland, for New Zealand News, in 1960. His journalism roles ranged from reporter to metropolitan daily newspaper editor. In 1992 he became a senior commercial manager for Wilson and Horton/APN. He retired from APN in 2007 and was engaged by the NZJTO, which represented mainstream media in New Zealand, to set up a workplace training scheme.

Workplace training was now established, he said. The industry-recognised j-schools at polytechnics and universities were also doing a great job teaching the basics of journalism.

“Overall, journalism in New Zealand continues to meet the expectations of readers, listeners and viewers,” he said. “Our journalism remains at the cutting edge of technology. We have some world-class websites, for example. Our journalists are producing more news faster than ever before.

“Equally importantly, our news coverage remains fair, accurate and balanced,” Mr Fletcher said.

As a result of a merger in January the NZJTO has become part of Competenz, a multi-sector national industry training organisation.

Journalism sector committee chairman Clive Lind said he hoped Mr Fletcher’s life-long knowledge and experience would not be lost.

“Mike knows how our industry works and he is well aware of the changes that have accelerated in recent years and will continue,” Mr Lind said. “Well-constructed training structures and programmes have to be a part of that, and the NZQA-recognised workplace training diploma he helped establish was a great strategic move for the media industry.

“We will miss his quiet presence and sound advice,” he said.

Newspaper Publishers’ Association Editorial Director Rick Neville said Mr Fletcher had brought a practical, common-sense approach to journalism training.

“He has worked closely with our newsrooms across the country and won the respect of all the people he’s worked with. He can take great pride in the consistently high take-up of journalism training opportunities and course completion rates.”

Tara Ross, head of the Journalist Educators’ Association of New Zealand (Jeanz), said Mr Fletcher played a key role in journalism education in New Zealand.

“He has guided the JTO through some very challenging times, including overhauls of the unit standards, a new moderation regime for Jeanz members, a new working relationship with the universities, mergers with other ITOs and the establishment of the Applied Journalism diploma. He also commissioned a new version of Intro, the NZ journalism textbook, which will be introduced into journalism schools this year.

“Mike has been unfailingly supportive of journalism educators and we shall miss his wise and affable presence. In his dealings with Jeanz, he has been good-natured, positive and a pleasure to work with. He has also proved himself to be a highly knowledgeable and experienced journalist, and an excellent advocate for the industry. He was staunch in his insistence on the importance of shorthand, for instance, and has arranged several summits of industry players and Jeanz members. Competenz will find it difficult to fill his enormous shoes,” Ms Ross said.

“While it’s sad to see Mike go, he will now have more time for his fishing and his family and we wish him all the very best in his retirement.”

Competenz has confirmed that they are actively seeking a replacement.