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Becoming Francis Cook, Reporter - Joining Scoop

Becoming Francis Cook, Reporter - Joining Scoop

By Francis Cook

I distinctly remember when my manager at the Café I was working asked a customer if she’d like marshmallows with her mocha. She paused, then declared “I want a job where I don’t have to ask people if they want marshmallows.” She left shortly after, taking a job with lower pay in the community NGO sector. She now works in Government.

I had my marshmallow moment earlier this year. Having recently finished an Honours degree in History, working my ass off to get a First Class, I found myself back where I had begun. Slinging out mochas and lattes to impatient and indifferent customers and getting criticised for the most trivial issues from upper management.

My patience with the industry having run out, with no job offers on the horizon, I made plans to leave. New York, Melbourne, London (my old habitat), I didn’t care. Around this time, my colleague alerted me to the fact that one of the faceless horde was Alastair Thompson, editor of Scoop. With nothing to lose, I decided to ask for a job and quietly anticipated his next visit. When he came in, he spoke on his phone, only stopping to tersely order his coffee, and left. I anticipated his next visit.

A tweet from Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson from the Prime Minister's press conference of 15th June, the author is seated far right, also present are my two intern colleagues Megan Gattey and Jeremy Wilkinson, both Journalism students at Massey university. (See our coverage of the 15 June and 22nd June press conferences.)
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I told Alastair I had an Honours degree, could write, and hated my job. We set up a meeting for the following week. After two weeks of working for free, at my insistence, he hired me full time. My time at Scoop has been a great learning experience and a pleasure. Along with political reporting, I have been able to review albums, cover gigs, and criticise Peter Jackson. I also discovered a dormant love of photography.

ANZAC day stands out as a particular highlight of my work. I turned up as early as possible to get into the media area, only to be turned down for not having a pass. I discovered later that the passes were, ironically, being handed out inside the media area. I tried every entrance but the crowd had grown too thick. I decided instead to take crowd shots. Just off Cuba St I grabbed this shot.

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A soldier in Arthur Street ANZAC day 2015 during the opening of Pukeahu Park

Shortly after I got a text from Alastair asking me to go up the hill to get a photo looking down at the crowd. I bluffed my way through Wellington High School without a pass and sneaked down the stairs at Massey to get this. Finally, being so close to the ceremony allowed me to get in quick to snap this one. As an untrained photographer, it was a good day for me.

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On the morning of the Pukeahu park opening Scoop had four reporters on the ground. Editor Alastair Thompson was tweeting from Taranaki Street. Megan Gattey had managed to get through the Police Cordon and reported from the Media Enclosure while I was making my excursions around the back of the crowd. Jeremy Wilkinson later covered the wreath laying at the Cenotaph.

I cherish my job at Scoop and the freedom we are afforded through independence.

I hope we at Scoop will continue to provide not only journalism in the public interest, but a launching pad for people like me who, in spite of qualifications, can’t catch a break New Zealand.

* This story is part of the "Operation Chrysalis" Stories of Scoop Series.


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