Chasing in all directions

To be a good journalist, you must have a chronic case of curiosity
(Lyn Barnes, 2016)

After our first into week of Principles of Journalism, there was one quote that had really stuck in my head. It was pearl of wisdom from out course leader Lyn Barnes, and a quote that I believe captures the essence of why journalists do what they do.

In looking at the role of journalists this week, we were introduced to the idea that news was originally an acronym of the four cardinal directions, relevant in the age where communication came through travellers. [It must however be noted that upon further research I found that we had been misinformed as to the origin of the word news, and infact a range of spellings existed for the original word, and the very same term in French “les nouvelles”, translates as the plural of “the new”]. Although somewhat misleading in the accuracy of the meaning behind news, the philosophy of a multidirectional approach remains relevant.With this in mind and on the look out for a story, I’ve done my best to actively pursue my curiosity.

On Wednesday I happened to be at a bar on Karangahape rd that was visited a number of times by a pair of police constables. Now an occasional bar visit is to be expected from police as they patrol our city, especially in upholding licensing laws and public safety, however this visit turned out to be more than a simple walk through. While I was there, the bar was entered three times in the space of an hour by these constables, each time wandering all the way through and disappearing out back for a short time only to return back to their car outside to sit for a while. As I left they were still outside standing by their car, and even had a second patrol car arrive as I departed. My curiosity was piqued, but at the time I was more interested in getting home to bed. The next day I tracked down the phone number of the central city police station and made attempts to contact them over the incident. However nothing was to come of it, a dead end was reached.

Another issue caught my eye of recent too, however it was a story more of the garden variety, especially in Auckland. I’ve noticed that ever since the pavements in Mt Eden village have been extended along the double decker bus route into the central city, traffic issues in the centre of the village have become horrendous. This is the result of the failure to re-zone the allocated parking areas. With a wider pavement pushing the parking further into two lane road, blocking movements into the second lane as soon as two cars in a row are stuck at the lights waiting to turn right. Nevertheless in depth stories on the finer details of Mt Eden village traffic jams due to a lack of foresight from the city council and Auckland Transport are not high on my list of compelling news.

A more promising subject has reared it’s head though, in the form of a dishevelled old theatre and music recording studio. The Crystal Palace was once a thriving movie theatre and music hall, a cultural icon in Mt Eden, however it now lies empty bar the occasional dust up for small concerts. I have more poking around to do in terms of scouting out what’s going on with attempts to revitalise the old building, so the plan for now is to continue to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.

 

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Putting Pen to Paper, at What Point Does it Become Journalism?

We now live in an age where internet access is widely available and everyone seems to have something to say. With the internet providing a medium for every man woman and child to post a picture of their morning cereal, complain about the state of their local city’s transport system and or even upload video of petty brawl in the street. This is the age of free flowing information, everything and anything seems to be available and on demand on the world wide web. The pen and paper of a journalist’s hastily scribbled notes have become 140 character limited tweets broadcast across the world at the click of a button. With this technology available to the masses, is the role of the journalist really still relevant?

My name is Sean Stapleton and I am an eighteen year old communications student at Auckland University of Technology. I’m currently taking a paper on the Principles of Journalism, hence this blog. My earliest memory of journalism is back in 2001 on the day of the September 11 attacks. My mother left the television running all day as she did the ironing, while I sat watching footage of the twin towers fall into the ground on repeat as journalists scrambled to make light of what had occurred. To me now, this typifies journalism, a duty to convey unbiased and factual information to the masses, to dispel rumour and investigate that which remains unexplained. As a journalist I want to tell stories, I want to educate and I want to shed light on what the public should know.

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When it comes to justifying the continuation of dedicated journalists in an age of free flowing information, it must be remembered that they are not simply just the relayers of news. Journalists are duty bound to hold the seemingly unaccountable to account, uphold an ethical standard to reporting and to bring professionalism to the presentation of the unending stream of information we are subjected to as media consumers. It is the task of journalists to tell the public not just what they want to know, but that which they need to know.