Editorial: School Journal must prove it still has value

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Fond memories aren't reason to keep an old faithful going

With more than 100 staff, Learning Media was unable to cover its costs even when it had a monopoly, said Bill English. Photo / NZ Herald
With more than 100 staff, Learning Media was unable to cover its costs even when it had a monopoly, said Bill English. Photo / NZ Herald

Many people will have been surprised at news this week that the publisher of the School Journal is to be wound up. The surprise is not that Learning Media, a state-owned enterprise, has been unable to pay its way, but rather that the School Journal has been published all these years.

Most people might have assumed it disappeared decades ago. The journal they well remember from their schooldays was a grey publication full of well-crafted New Zealand fiction illustrated by line sketches and requiring some concentrated reading.

It is hard to believe it has survived in any form in the modern classroom.

Not only has it survived this long, Prime Minister John Key has promised it will continue when Learning Media closes in a few months.

The company, formerly the school publications branch of the Department of Education, has been unable to compete since it lost its exclusive contract for state education publications in 2011.

With more than 100 staff, it was unable to cover its costs even when it had a monopoly, said Finance Minister Bill English this week.

"Taxpayers would have got better value if the business had been sold to someone better able to manage it," he said, "but the Government's policy has been no sales." Point taken.

But is the publisher's venerable flagship, the journal, now to be subsidised for the sake of fond memory, or because it is still useful in schools?

If it is useful, schools would pay for it. If they do not value it that much, it has had its day.

- NZ Herald

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