By: Jamie Ensor
You know when your phone is on 2 per cent charge yet you expect it to run perfectly? Tapping the screen over and over again. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter all going full-bore. Applications becoming slow and glitchy; the device is about the crash.
Walking into University on Monday mornings, I feel a lot like that phone.
Everyone has that same sort of vibe. Tired, unamused and dreading the coming hours of bland slideshows and awkward group activities. Pull out the brand-new iPhone you spent your $1000 ‘course-related costs’ on and take a snapshot; the contrast between my face and the gleaming expectations of my tutors would be vivid.
Lucky for me, Mondays happen to be my early start with an enthralling dose of Journalism: Law and Ethics. I’m not sure whose idea it was to put the class that is meant to keep us out of court at such an early hour – I’m not impressed. It is a rare day when most of the class turns up. A rarer one when everyone is awake.
But the origin of such withdrawal is rarely alcoholic. The Monday morning deflation seldom comes from a glamourous weekend out partying, flippantly ignoring responsibilities to lounge around taking selfies with a puppy filter.
Journalism is a competitive field. Social media’s serving of news means there are fewer jobs out there and having a degree only gets you halfway. Finding industry experience is vital, but that leaves little time for the books in the weekend.
Giving up study, and any resemblance of a social life, for these opportunities isn’t a complaint. It is just a reality most students deal with, but boy it makes Mondays a drag.
To gain the most worthwhile experience from any lecture, several crafty manoeuvres must be perfected. Like in some heist film, a keen level of precision is required for what is arguably the most important decision a student can make. Choosing where to sit.
Let me set the stage, an appropriate metaphor considering how dramatic students are accused of being as they strut around with their soy decaf pumpkin spice macchiato.
I arrive early. Optimistic about my chances, I stealthily enter the classroom to survey my options. The cliques are obvious. From the popular girls, to the ones tutors get overly excited about for turning up, to those dressed like they live in the ’80s without understanding what the ’80s represent.
But such judgements must be pushed aside. What I am really concerned with is sussing somewhere that provides an adequate line of sight to the tutor while also obscuring my laptop screen from their view.
Securing that holy seat requires great practise. Mistakes will be made. But the opportunity to compliment Marxist theory with some quality Facebook memes can be extremely rewarding.
Jokes aside, to make the weekends of part-time work worth it, I take the lectures extremely seriously. Engaging with the practical skills necessary to being an ethical journalist with a rigid sense of social responsibility is essential and at the core of our learning.
Just like the time we spent an hour learning how to use Facebook’s search bar to track down sources for our stories. As if a bunch of 20 year-olds in 2018 don’t know how to stalk people on social media.
Hump-day: fatigue, friends having yet another meltdown about deadlines, bus doesn’t turn up. Nothing new here.
By Thursday assignments are mounting up.
For a student-journalist in their final year at University, AUT doesn’t disappoint, boasting a purpose-built newsroom, radio booths and television studio. Feedback from our tutors place us in a prime position to use these facilities to report on an array of fascinating events.
My core project this year has been to create a portfolio of news stories. While I initially tried to begin each story earlier than needed, I quickly came to find it is never early enough, especially to contact sources. There are many typical responses from sources that journalists talk about, but some really can’t be understood until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
So-called communication strategists love to reply to emails and phone calls saying they will get back to you. Of course, they never do. The public relations version of leaving someone on ‘seen’ may seem like an effective strategy, but after years of classes with repetitive ice-breaker activities that force you into conversations with complete strangers, believe me, we really want to pass our papers. We will keep ringing back.
Some sources also won’t answer questions because apparently I had some obligation to send them a list earlier. During a long interview it gets to the point where even asking the spelling of their name is robotically responded to with “No, I wasn’t provided with that question beforehand”. And you end up spelling Johynn Smythe as John Smith.
TGIF – not really.
With the merry thought of having a week until my assignment is due, I jump online and see a notification from my class Facebook group. Never a good sign.
Confusion. Mayhem. Chaos. Imagine a cafe, filled with millennials, that has just run out of avocados. Pandemonium has erupted.
Apparently, the essay was due today. I search through the assignment brief. It’s wrong says one student. Another says they were told by the tutor weeks ago. No one else was. Typical.
Simply, Fridays: Put on a brave face, grab a glass of wine (or a bottle), and get ready to welcome in the new working week(end).
Source: NZ Herald