Newsroom faces Scoop spin-off after split

Both halves of the team that formerly ran the popular political and news Website Newsroom have re-emerged on the Web - and are doing essentially the same thing.

Both halves of the team that formerly ran the popular political and news Website Newsroom have re-emerged on the Web – and are doing essentially the same thing.

Newsroom founder and editor Peter Fowler has a completely redesigned site under the Newsroom banner, and the group of shareholders who parted company with him in a bitter dispute have a new site, Scoop, which looks very much like Newsroom used to.

Both parties in what Scoop spokesman Ian Llewellyn describes as a split sparked by "basic personality clashes and disputes over business planning and power structures," are in negotiation at the moment to try and avoid legal action, which may centre intellectual property issues.

Llewellyn has confirmed that Scoop's resemblance to the old Newsroom is due to the fact that when he, Alastair Thompson and Andrew McNaughton parted company with Fowler, they took the software on which Newsroom was based.

Newsroom was off air for more than a week while Fowler had a new site developed by Auckland's Glazier Systems, and Scoop appeared this week, touting sponsorship from Wellington ISP Paradise.Net (Newsroom was formerly sponsored by Actrix Networks).

The venture has additional funding from what Llewellyn describes as "someone with interests in the media industry. It's nothing huge - enough to keep us running. It's philanthropic."

Scoop also has NewsAgent, an equivalent to the NewsMail service that proves a significant chunk of Newsroom's income.

But the spin-off's success will hinge very much on whether it can obtain the party press releases that have been the bread and butter of Newsroom's service in the past two years. Some party communications staff may feel a loyalty to Fowler.

Fowler, meanwhile, is still refusing to be drawn on the dispute.

"I don't intend debating this in the media," said Fowler. "It's in the hands of my lawyer and I'll be most pleased to comment once a resolution is reached. Which it will be, one way or the other. And I hope that my former partners will see sense."

Newsroom is at http://www.newsroom.co.nz

Scoop is at http://www.scoop.co.nz

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