Queenstown's paper changes hands
Wednesday 23 Jan 2013 5:36 p.m.
After 40 years of entertaining Queenstown, the town's controversial newspaper Mountain Scene is getting a new owner.
The paper is proud of its reputation as a hard-hitting tabloid read right across the country.
“It punches well above its weight in terms of national recognition. Part of that is just the location of Queenstown, Queenstown's quite a sexy place for news and events,” says publisher Richard Thomas.
The former tourism paper is now at the heart of all the gossip and scandal in the growing Central Otago town.
But owners the Thomas family are selling the business to Allied Press, who are confident there's still a future for print newspapers with a local focus.
“We think products like the Mountain Scene, or the Otago Daily Times, or other communities which concentrate on their own areas have a very bright future,” says Allied Press editor Murray Kirkness.
The two companies used to be rivals. Almost five years ago, the Mountain Scene publishers launched the D Scene newspaper in Dunedin, home of Allied Press's flagship ODT.
But tough sales tactics saw the upstart struggle and the weekly paper was sold to Fairfax.
Mr Thomas hopes the new owners won't change his paper's winning formula.
“[I hope it keeps] its hard news edge, that differentiated sort of racy, quirky style that Mountain Scene's become well known for up and down the country,” he says.
It's a view echoed by the paper's long-serving chief newshound, Philip Chandler, known around town simply as "Scoop".
“That's been what they wanted to buy, and why would they want that diluted? Why would you want to change that?” says Mr Chandler.
Mr Thomas will be staying on as a director, to help keep the 40-year-old masthead on track.