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From student to teacher in one round-world leap

Jul 10th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Article

WHITIREIA Polytech’s new online journalism tutor is straight out of college, but doesn’t feel that a lack of experience is hampering him.

Twenty-one-year-old Englishman Dave Lee is lending his internet skills to students of Whitireia’s new multimedia-focused journalism course. He began working as a tutor just days after finishing his own degree at University of Lincoln.

But he says being a rookie journalist isn’t an issue in the burgeoning area of web journalism.

“No-one’s got any experience in it,” he says. “No one can say ‘Well, I’ve been doing this for 25 years’, because it didn’t exist then.”

Mr Lee started his blog in December, 2005, and it quickly attracted attention in the media community because of his insightful comments on online journalism.

Whitireia head of journalism Jim Tucker was one of those reading Mr Lee’s blog and invited him to come to New Zealand to teach digital-age skills to the school’s first multimedia journalism diploma programme.

“He seemed to make so much sense, he had so much clarity in his thinking, it just kind of resonated for me,” says Mr Tucker.

Hiring Mr Lee was a “punt”, but any concerns were fleeting: “I have a complete lack of experience in the area he knows about, so I think that’s where we complement each other.”

His reception from students has been positive, although one student, Anne Cornish, admits she was initially anxious about being taught by someone so young.

“When I first heard that he was coming, I thought ‘What the hell does he think he’s doing?’, but now I am completely turned around,” she says.

Mr Lee has also shared his knowledge with Vodafone, and appeared as a guest speaker on Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch.

During his classes Mr Lee has taught students how to make effective use of dynamic web elements such as audio and video to aid in the delivery of stories.

He has also shown how the internet can help journalists gather news more effectively and how to build and maintain relationships with contacts online.

He set up the class news website,, which will give students practical experience in using their new online skills.

Mr Lee, who returns to England on Saturday, is excited about starting his career as a journalist.

“My concern now,” he says, “is to get a job back in journalism. Although I’ve enjoyed teaching very, very much, I still want to be a journalist in the UK media.”

But he does not plan on leaving New Zealand forever: “I’m hoping I may be able to come back before the course is over and see how the website we’re making is doing and how successful it is for everyone.”

UNPLUGGED: Dave Lee reading an old fashioned newspaper.

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