Journalism course joins
In 2011, the Western Institute of Technology’s journalism course was relocated to just metres from a buzzing newsroom.
In a first for New Zealand, the Robin Martin-led course is held in office space inside the Taranaki Daily News building in downtown New Plymouth.
“This is the only journalism school incorporated in this way into a daily media organisation in the country,” says Robin of the arrangement with the Fairfax Media publication.
“That’s a huge fillip for this particular course and people who are enrolled in or are attracted to this course, I imagine will be very excited at the prospect of studying so close to real journalists in a real newspaper. ”
Robin says the National Diploma in Journalism (Multi-Media) course is extremely practical and, over the years, students have had hundreds of stories published in the Taranaki Daily News and its associated website and the Fairfax group website, Stuff.
Many other stories appear in theSouth Taranaki Starand the North Taranaki Midweek, which is also located in the Daily News building.
That’s not to mention those broadcast on local radio stations the Most FM and NewstalkZB.
The course has been operating in the Daily News building for a year now and its editor Roy Pilott is right behind the move.
“I would like to think it adds value to the WITT course because of the position they are in to learn early on about the nuances of working in a newsroom.”
Roy says the students will understand the culture of a newsroom, especially how information is handled confidentially and stories are dealt with sensitively.
“I think there’s a view that we walk in with hobnail boots and don’t consider the sensitivity of people,” he says.
“People just assume we know everything as well and the decisions made are based on 100 per cent information issues, but that’s not always the case. We have to work with what we’ve got.”
Not only do the students get a realistic view of how a newsroom works, they also learn far sooner whether daily news reporting is the industry for them, Roy says.
Another plus is that the students will get to know the Taranaki Daily News staff and vice versa, with students often going out on assignment with professional photographers for example.
“I’m hopeful and confident that they will recognise the opportunities and the benefits of being here,” says Roy.
Robin is the programme leader but he is assisted by freelance writer Jayne Hulbert, who is also the shorthand teacher.