I’d forgotten how much you have to learn to be a journalist

I’m doing a stint this semester as the Journalist in Residence at AUT University. This week, the first week of term, we’re running a bootcamp for degree and post-graduate students studying journalism.

Some students have done preparatory courses for this year, others haven’t. Either way they all have a lot to master in the year ahead.

They’re starting on a very steep learning curve this week: interviewing, recording, writing and filing stories to deadline from day one.

Watching the bootcamp unfold has made me realise how much I’ve learned and internalised over the years. How many things that working (and even lapsed) journalists do instinctively.

We already know how to take notes, check our audio is recording, listen to who we’re talking to, adapt questions on the fly, put people at ease and mentally map how the story will read all at the same time.

We’ve already been yelled at, forgotten to push record, got facts/names/dates wrong, felt like a fool, been overwhelmed and elated and overwhelmed again and come out the other side.

But for someone new, interviewing someone you’ve never met before is not at all instinctive. It’s awkward. A little like the clunky process of learning to drive: remember, think, do, feel overwhelmed, feel relieved, rinse and repeat.

So hats off to the crew of 2015 for rushing headlong into the challenge. Hang in there, it’s going to get easier.

In the weeks and months ahead our students will be publishing stories in news publications around Auckland, and the country, on our own website tewahanui.info and in our print edition Te Waha Nui.

You can follow our progress, and see our stories on Facebook and Twitter. And right now some of our students are sharing thoughts, images, and requests for information using the hashtag #AUTbootcamp.

You might want to help them out with story ideas, suggestions of great people to follow, and tips on how to be an effective journalist and citizen on Twitter and beyond.

And if you’re in a position to offer an internship a little later to one or more of our hardy students, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.