Journalism school partners with Taranaki Daily News
When the Western Institute of Technology (WITT) journalism course starts next month, it will be located just metres from a buzzing newsroom.
In a first for New Zealand, the Robin Martin-led course will be held in office space inside the Taranaki Daily News building in downtown New Plymouth.
“This will be first journalism school incorporated in this way into a daily media organisation in the country,” says Robin.
“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. Feature writers, photographers, web journalists and senior editorial staff will be right next door.”
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, South Taranaki Star and the North Taranaki Midweek, which is also located in the building.
That’s not to mention those published on the web or broadcast on local radio stations the Most FM and NewstalkZB.
The idea to shift the one-year, Level 5 course to the newspaper is the brainchild of four men – Robin and Daily News deputy editor Rob Mitchell, and before them, former WITT journalism tutor Jim Tucker and retired editor and WITT editor-in-residence Lance Girling-Butcher.
Current 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 will the students have a realistic view of how a newsroom works, they will 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.
“We are looking forward to having WITT here,” he says. “I’m hopeful and confident that they will recognise the opportunities and the benefits of being here.”
Robin is the main tutor on the course but he will be assisted by freelance writer Virginia Winder, who is also the shorthand teacher.
There are 20 places available on the course and although interest has been high applications are still being considered. Those people already approved are reminded they must enrol to secure their place.
The course starts on February 21. For more information check out: www.wittworks.ac.nz