Telum Talks To: James Wheeler from New Zealand Herald
Interview

Telum Talks To: James Wheeler from New Zealand Herald

By Erin Assur

Telum Media spoke with James Wheeler, the Digital Curation Editor at the New Zealand Herald, to find out more about his role and how the masthead's digital offerings have evolved in his time there.

What does your role as Digital Curation Editor entail?
As Digital Curation Editor, I lead the NZ Herald's digital producers, homepage editors, and comment moderators, to ensure we are creating and executing high-quality, engaging, and trustworthy journalism, while also making sure we showcase our best content, both free and Premium, on the homepage. I am also assisting the moderators to foster lively, constructive debate from our subscribers on our articles.

My role also involves live shifts homepage editing the site and chiefing shifts in the newsroom, so it's quite varied, which I enjoy. I also like that while I lead the team, I am also "on the tools" and working alongside them, so I can see what they see and identify any pain points / issues as they emerge.

How has the New Zealand Herald's digital offering changed / progressed in your time there?
When I look at how far we've come since I joined the Herald in mid-2015, several things stand out.

The launch of NZ Herald Premium in 2019 was a pivotal move for us, and massive credit needs to go to Miriyana Alexander for leading that charge. Since then, we have also added Viva Premium and The Listener to that offering, while NZME has also added BusinessDesk and recently launched Newstalk ZB PLUS.

We've also become a lot smarter around data and how we use it to better understand our audience and their habits. The use of video in our storytelling has also expanded.

In 2020 and 2021 especially, the Covid-19 pandemic changed how we worked, and how we communicated. It was amazing the work being done while we were mostly working from home, but still delivering vital news to Kiwis. In that time of crisis, people turned to online sources in numbers never before seen.

But what hasn't changed is at the core of what we do. As I mentioned earlier, high-quality, engaging, and trustworthy journalism.

What has been your favourite story or project you've worked on with the New Zealand Herald?
Not so much a favourite but more memorable. Several come to mind.

Running the Herald homepage for several election nights, the day Winston Peters chose Labour in 2017, and being the newsroom chief the morning the Queen died are days I will never forget. But in and around that, it's been great being involved in some newsroom projects / presentations regarding digital best practices and passing on what I can.

Are there any projects you're looking forward to at the end of this year, or looking ahead to in the new year?
We've finished strong with the incredible election coverage, Rugby World Cup, and now Cricket World Cup reaching the business end, and I am incredibly proud of how all of that went. A huge team effort. From now until the new year, the work continues with the team. Seeing them continue to grow, learn new skills, and get more experience is always fulfilling.

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