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Saturday, 20 December 2014 09:38 pm

Election gives real-time taste of news deadlines

Nov 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Most Popular, News, Top Picture

DON’T let anyone try to tell you journalism is going to hell in a hand-basket.

It’s in excellent hands at the coalface end if judged by the performance of journalism students who write for this website.

They have just spent a fortnight reporting on the US election, writing about its implications for New Zealand, its importance in global debates about the recession, race relations, women’s rights, sexual preference, celebrities, abortion, truth-telling and modern politics in a social media age.

Their 50-plus stories ranged from analysis of international relations with an Obama or a Romney government, to a cafe in Wellington where the inventor of an Obama-burger was praying for the incumbent to win.

On election day and night, a team of 25 in two shifts monitored the world’s online media - from the UK Guardian to the Huffington Post to RealEasyPolitics to Stuff and NZHerald – and social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

They plucked out the latest in results and developments and had them up on NewsWire in a trice, with the home page changing every few minutes for a marathon 12 hours.

When American news outlets NBC and Huffpost picked the result (should that be predicted?) at 5.08pm (NZ time), NewsWire had its first story up at 5.15pm, just ahead of the two big NZ news websites, Stuff and NZHerald.

The last story to be posted was a piece written from a student’s observations and interviews at the US Embassy party in Wellington’s Chicago Sports Bar, illustrated with a photo essay.

As a class project, the election coverage gave students a taste of the pressures, disasters, triumphs and tribulations that provide context in every newsroom in the world.

Someone thought to record some of it in video and photos, and someone else remembered to screen-grab a few of the NewsWire home pages as they changed. That provided material for a brief video of the night.

IMAGES: Taren Stevens, Jim Tucker

Audio Version via SoundGecko

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is head of journalism at Whitireia Journalism School and publisher of NewsWire. He has been in journalism nearly 50 years, 22 as a working journalist (including five as deputy editor then editor of the Auckland Star), 27 as a journalism teacher. He was previously Executive Director of the NZ Journalists Training Organisation. His books on journalism, Kiwi Journalist (1988) and Intro (1991) were the standard teaching texts in NZ for two decades.
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