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The Stuff Nation: A brave new world or a boring new commenting system?

By September 17, 2012News, Opinion


Stuff.co.nz launched “Stuff Nation” today – a system with real potential to shake up the News industry. But will it work? Keren Phillips asks if it’s the revolutionary marriage of citizen journalism and traditional reporting we’ve all been waiting for.


In the race for subscribers, Stuff.co.nz has introduced an interesting new membership portal/system called “Stuff Nation”. It promises a philosophical shift in the delivery and consumption of news but will it live up to such a lofty goal? Only time will tell if this is the death of journalism as we know it, an excruciatingly boring box-tick, or an innovative marriage of traditional reporting and citizen journalism.

The official Fairfax party line talks about this new feature being “born out of a desire to bring our readers much closer together, to form a more tangible community from those of you who already love to engage with Stuff’s content, and to give you opportunities to contribute your views and news in a much more meaningful way.”.

Sounds like PR spin for a glorified commenting function, but on closer inspection it seems Stuff Nation actually represents a pretty brave, fundamental shift in the way Fairfax is engaging with its online consumers.

Users (Nationalites? Citizens?) can create profiles that divulge as much or as little to other users as they want. Your membership will then allow you access to a whole raft of features and opportunities that should make your News experience richer, more relevant and potentially, even more fun.

On the fun front, leaderboards and groups can now be set up for the popular stuff quiz – like a pub quiz with fewer hot chips and leering barmen. Cute idea.

The features I’m most interested in however, are the “Tell the nation your news” ones that allow members to “Take on specialised assignments and submit reports on what is happening in your area. Become a writer, a photographer or video journalist and you could have your work featured on Stuff Nation”.

Apparently the Stuff editors will set topics or “assignments” and members will be invited to contribute by joining discussion threads or by submitting their own complete stories with the opportunity of getting them published on the site.

So far the assignments seem to range from the impossibly broad to the ridiculously mundane (really Stuff? “Is your boss hot?”!?), but it’ll be interesting to see this feature develop as members lead the conversation.

Other incentives for joining the Nation are fancy new newsletters you can customise, the ability to “save” stories for reading later, the ability to add your own newsfeed to the Stuff.co.nz homepage featuring topics you’re actually interested in, a currency converter and stock monitoring widget for lightening speed money-type info, and the Open Newsroom Network – a registration system that lets you share your areas of expertise with the Stuff journos so they can call on you for article research or public commentary.

Have a play and let us know what you think. Does this represent a giant leap forward for the modern News industry or will it turn into just another over-complicated gossip forum? Does it include all the features you’d like or would you like to see something else?


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