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Radioman Joyce opens our new media centre

May 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

NEW BEGINNING: Whitireia CEO Don Campbell watches Steven Joyce cut the ribbon. IMAGE: Carl Suurmond.

WHITIREIA’S journalism school was in danger of planning its own wake four years ago.

Now, it’s a key part of the largest media training centre in New Zealand, and was opened today by tertiary education minister Steven Joyce.

The school had declined to the point of threatened closure in 2007, but the journalism programmes have since been re-developed and now occupy brand new premises in Cuba St along with other Whitireia media courses.

In his speech today, the Minister recounted his own days in radio, which led to the founding of Energy FM in his hometown, New Plymouth, and eventually a chain of stations.

“I’m passionate about radio,” he told the 150 media, education and business people who turned up for the launch.

The limit to radio is the limit to “your own imagination”, he told media centre students, who covered the event for NewsWire.

He said his first day as radio announcer at Radio Massey was a disaster – he left the microphone on as he uttered some “Anglo-Saxon” words.

Today’s students were unlikely to make those sorts of mistakes, given the quality of training that would be available at the new, purpose-built and modern facilities in the centre.

The new facilities – catering for more than 300 campus-based and distance learning students across all four programmes – are part of a $350,000 upgrade of the campus, which is housed in the former Wellington Workingmen’s Club on Cuba Mall.

As well as journalism, the campus has a long-established creative writing programme, the recently acquired New Zealand Radio Training School and the country’s only book publishing diploma.

Getting everything related to media into one place was an idea floated back in 2007 with the then-new polytech CEO Don Campbell, says journalism head Jim Tucker (left).

“Today sees the dream become reality,” he says. “Don said he wanted the best journalism school in the country and now we can deliver that.

“With the facilities in this building, we’ve got the most modern multimedia training centre in the country.”

The journalism school had seven students in 2007. This year 70 will pass through its doors to study journalism in all its forms, with the learning showcased on NewsWire, Whitireia’s unique (for NZ) news website.

The newly-established Diploma in Radio Journalism is the only course of its kind in the country.

Tutor Ana Tapiata has 27 years in journalism training, including 14 years with Radio New Zealand National, more recently with its Maori language programme, Te Rourou.

Book publishing programme leader Rachel Lawson (right) says the course is practical, with students producing around 15 publications each year, including books, magazines, journals and websites.

This year students will be producing their first eBooks.

NZ publishers recruit directly from the course – it is their first port of call when looking for staff, says Ms Lawson.

“In fact, publishers will not employ anyone without experience. They send them to us to train.”

NZRTS programme manager Jono Manks (left) says he and his 30 radio students, who are training towards a qualification in commercial broadcasting, have “hit the ground running” since moving in.

“Our students will be more than ready when they leave here. The standard of the equipment – from our computer software, to the [seven] recording studios we use – these are what they will find when they enter the industry,” he says.

The creative writing programme offers study in short fiction, poetry, script writing and non-fiction.

Mary-Jane Duffy (right), programme co-ordinator, says that the course has gone from strength to strength, with six students this year going on to complete their masters degree and two graduates being selected for the NZ Film Commission’s New Writer’s initiative last year.

PACIFIC VOICE: Steven Joyce with (at left) Pere Maitai, projects manager for NiuFM, and Tom Etuata, CEO of NiuFM operator the Pacific Media Network. IMAGE: Angie Mills.

The course has also created literary award winners.

Alison Wong  and Kathy Taylor are both winners of top literary awards.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards fiction category and the Tom Fitzgibbon Award for children’s writing, respectively.

Completing the multimedia scene is the NiuFM radio station, broadcasting live 24-hours a day from its studio just down the hall from the centre’s classrooms.

Proud to be the “beat of the Pacific”, NiuFM is soon to be joined by Radio Tarana, New Zealand’s largest foreign/English language station, which broadcasts to the Indian community.

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