Mon 9 Dec

Having already had a week at the Gold Coast Bulletin, I felt like an ‘old hand’ at being the new girl, but there was definitely that little bit of fear of the unknown when arriving at The Courier Mail.


I was given the grand tour and then seated near one of the cadets monitoring the police scanner.


Conversation on introductions went along the lines of “Hi, I’m Anne. Thanks for letting me sit here and for helping me out on my first day.” “Hi, I’m Jacinda. You don’t happen to know any grandparents babysitting their grandchildren today? There’s a big story on this and I need a photo and an interview.”


And the ice was broken. As a matter of fact, my mum was home babysitting my daughter and could easily rope in the cousins for a photo op. What a bit of luck. I was already learning the value of a huge contact list!


Once the photo shoot was organised, I was then handed the stats from a festival held on the weekend that needed an online article about the numbers and types of arrests. Done! Next, an article about a toddler hurt in a car accident. Phoning police media, hospitals, witnesses. Anyone to get a good story.


Experienced in vox pop? Sure am! Off I went with my cadet buddy to get the Word on the Street about sledging in the cricket. Then back to help with a “What’s on component of the newspaper that needed some passages typed and information sources from holiday activity providers.


It was a funny feeling to be working away while all the while monitoring the scanner, keeping an eye on facebook and twitter for interesting stories. Is this work?!


Day two saw me straight off to court. Stories about dog theft, petty theft, armed robbery, fights, drug possession to a major drug haul. Co wrote a big story about the drugs and filed another about the dog thief. I then waited for a couple of hours outside the watch house in the hope of a photo of the various alleged criminals we were writing our stories on. Rubbed shoulders with other media, questioned each other to get details correct, watched slyly as calls were taken and then quickly returned to court to see what the fuss was about. Sunburnt and with adrenalyn pumping, I sat and waited for the alleged armed robber with 63 charges and a 5 page criminal history applying for bail. The case was shifted from court room to court room. Was this a ploy to remove the media from the case? It was easy to see how a great story could be missed as things were mumbled, rooms changed with no notice, times not adhered to etc. etc. I was becoming sharp! One of the camera men was smashed in the face by the state’s pathologist who didn’t want to be filmed. I was getting a taste for the ‘vulture’ side of journalism. Fantastic!


Already feeling like a day’s work had been achieved, the breaking news was that the UN was wanting to allow kids to be able to rat on their parents for smacking them. So, it was off for Word on the Street about smacking kids and the big task of finding a parent prepared to be photographed and interviewed about smacking their kids. This was a front page photo!


The rest of the week flew. I interviewed storm chasers, the bureau of meteorology, became part of the media pack at press conferences, hounded police for more information about traffic incidents, actually felt the disappointment when a crash or a fire or an evacuation amounted to nothing interesting to report.


I tracked down shoppers willing to have their photo taken and to comment on the amount of money they had spent. Felt the fear people have of journalists and had to put people at ease about being interviewed.


Circled a The Valley Primary along with other media  in the hour before 3 in the hope of an emotional interview with a family. The only problem was the school had been made media wary so it was difficult, not to mention it poured with rain in the critical moments.


I really enjoyed The Courier Mail and had the great fortune of experiencing a very wide range of stories. I was thankful for all the training and ‘know-how”’ I had because the story writing itself was easy, it was my news gathering that I was able to work on and expend my experience.


My only disappointment was that I was sent out to gain more information and quotes but found stories were published without mention of my input. Luckily, this was amended in the online versions, but it did show that as an intern, you do need to be heard and specifically ask that your name be added so you can build on your portfolio. Don’t assume it will happen automatically!