The offline journalist

erstellt am: 07.08.2011 | von: Alexander Winkler | Kategorie(n): Blog, English

I’m sorry for breaking my promise. I really planned to give daily updates from Gisborne – on our stories, the city, maybe even the weather. But I simply couldn’t go online as easily as I had hoped.

Don’t get me wrong – Gisborne has internet. It might be a the city at the end of the world (they are proud of being the city to greet the sun first every day), but that doesn’t make it any less modern. Nonetheless, my provider’s cell phone coverage ended just past Auckland’s suburb of Bombay, and the Gisborne Herald only provided us with one old laptop with a really slow 3G internet stick that we had to share.

However, our motel did have broadband wifi. But the signal wasn’t strong enough to supply our apartment. And even though I did go outside every morning to check emails with my phone, I couldn’t be bothered to blog from the middle of the driveway.

But I have to admit that most of the times, I quite enjoyed not having internet. I mean for every bigger essay that I had to write for uni, I usually went offline for one or two weeks to simply focus on the work. And working offline as a journalist – without email, search engines, online council minutes – had a certain appeal.

And a lot of the times, the work went quite well. Using a real map, looking up people and organisations in the phone book and using the phone rather than email. And obviously for me, no online dictionary. It’s fun to overcome internet habits every once in a while. At least to the point where sources dictate you the use of the internet.

For example, one spokesperson for the Gisborne Council would only answer questions by email. Other organisation representatives needed questions emailed to have them approved by superiors, before being interviewed. And then there is all the information that people offer to send by email. So even though I wanted to stay offline, there was simply no way.

However, I call myself an online journalist. But by watching the whole team I realised you don’t have to be an online journalist, to be put off by an offline newsroom.

So what about my field trip experience? It was awesome. Being in a city so similar in size to my hometown in Germany, yet so different. I learned about puppies’ being vaccinated against parvovirus, the most important facts of a logging ship, privacy issues in forestry alcohol and drug abuse and catholic schools in New Zealand. We got three front page stories, two features, one recipe and lots of smaller stories printed.

We definitely had a pretty good time!

I heard rumors the Gisborne Herald might be hiring an online editor. I don’t think the job would be interesting enough to abort my Master’s studies. But spending some more time in Gisborne doesn’t sound too bad an idea after all.

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