Television New Zealand is looking at new ways to use Mike Hosking outside of Seven Sharp.

My sources tell me TVNZ is planning to lighten up the show by pairing weatherman Sam Wallace with Toni Street.

It is not clear how TVNZ will utilise Hosking's talents. Head of news and current affairs John Gillespie has stressed that while he is looking at changes to Seven Sharp, they would not be large.

I expect Seven Sharp's tone will become even lighter, to stem the inroads that Three's The Project has made into commercial demographics.

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I believe that Street and Wallace would have more mainstream appeal than the hosts of The Project, who have adopted a liberal-light tone to counter Hosking's conservative commentary.

Brighter future

A flurry of new media initiatives has eased fears about the future of local journalism, at least for the meantime.

Last August, liberal website Public Address ran a debate at fashionable Ponsonby bar Golden Dawn, where speakers warned about the state of Kiwi media and considered how to keep public interest journalism afloat.

Warning signs had been building, but they came to a head last year with recognition of the damage to local media from Facebook and Google snatching advertising revenue.

It is early days, but it seems as though that gathering really did herald a golden dawn.

Feeling better

For eight years, Peter Griffin has been head of the Science Media Centre, a Royal Society initiative to assist writing on science. He is also a long-time independent campaigner for public interest journalism.

Griffin feels "a lot better" about the future of such journalism than he did two or three years ago. "We have new players that are forging new models, including sponsorship at Newsroom and Spinoff, with some crowdfunding at the latter, with the development of an investigative fund," he says.

"Two or three years ago, readers would not put up with a lot of sponsored content. Now they are seeing that actually can be good quality content."

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Mark Jennings is a former head of news and current affairs at MediaWorks, and launched the Newsroom website with former Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy. The site has been at the centre of some recent news stories, including the Todd Barclay affair.

"The [journalism] landscape has been going through tremendous change in the past 12 months," says Jennings. The Herald and Fairfax had moved further into multimedia and "everybody has got more dynamic," he says.

"We have started to say that the only people who are going to save us are ourselves."

Jennings is wary, though, noting that "it is still hugely financially challenging for media".

"The shop window [for journalism] looks good," he says, but "nobody knows how long it can be sustained."

Six of the best

• Launched in 2015 with exclusive comedy content, NZME's WatchMe site has delved further into news and sports coverage. Elsewhere, Herald Focus has pushed nzherald.co.nz into the video world with spot news and commentary.

• The online magazine the Spinoff has been around since 2014, but says it has doubled in size over the past year. It has a staff of 21, 16 of them fulltime, including senior editor Toby Manhire. The site has been active in the push to get taxpayer funding for digital media.

• Launched at the start of this year, Newsroom operates as a free online news magazine, as well as offering the subscriber-only Newsroom Pro service. It has developed ties with universities to round out its offering.

• Fairfax's decision to hire the disestablished investigative team from MediaWorks has boosted its online journalism, most recently with "The Valley", a series on NZ involvement in Afghanistan which received $324,000 of taxpayer funding.

• Radio New Zealand's decision to deliver content free to other media has had the effect of boosting RNZ's profile, and easing tensions with the private sector. Meanwhile, The Wireless, launched in 2013, is RNZ's bid to attract a younger liberal audience, not dissimilar to the Spinoff.

• Publisher Bauer launched its online arm Noted in November last year, alongside a retro push into the newspaper market with the weekly giveaway Paperboy. The website is boosted by access to RNZ material.