An old school reporter retires

A lot of things have changed significantly in New Zealand and in the world over the last fifty years. One of those things is journalism along with the means of distributing news and views.

Dave Cannan started as a cadet reporter for the Otago Daily Times in 1970, moved on to work for newspapers in Christchurch and Timaru before returning to the ODT where he rose to the position of chief reporter in the first decade of this century.

To mark his retirement from the newspaper business the ODT has a profile of him and his career as a reporter.

ODT: It’s news to us all

”The Wash” wound up on Friday last week. In a strange twist of timing, it also marked the 65th birthday of Cannan, who is putting behind him a career in journalism that has spanned almost five decades – specifically, since January 20, 1970, when a 17-year-old Mosgiel youth started as a cadet reporter at the Otago Daily Times. Back then, New Zealand had yet to hear of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe (killed six months later at Pukekawa, Waikato). The same year, John Rowles sold a million copies of his single Cheryl Moana Marie, and Hogsnort Rupert claimed a Loxene Golden Disc Award for Pretty Girl.

I was still at school then but remember those things – I followed the Arthur Allan Thomas trial in the ODT, but I wasn’t a fan of either Rowles or Hogsnort Rupert.

Anyway, after being sent home from Wanaka by mum, I saw an ad in the ODT for an apprentice photo-lithographer. I got an interview – which was in the old ODT building at Queen’s Gardens – and basically got offered the job. But I mentioned I was interested in a job as a reporter and was taken up to the editorial department to see [then chief of staff] Clarke Isaacs.

”(In those days – and until the early 1990s – the ODT took on youngsters as cadet journalists; they started on the bottom rung of the ladder, typically learning their craft from a variety of industry veterans.)

”It was pretty rough and tumble and not particularly politically correct, you might say. But you got to learn from people like Clarke and from senior reporters.

”Once I got the job I had to get my head around what reporters actually do. As a cadet you’d get some menial tasks – the fruit and vegetable column,  the fire calls, the shipping news – but they were a good way to learn the basics of the craft, from ringing people up to checking your facts and figures.”

Details of his reporting career follow that, to:

Appointed chief reporter in 1999, Cannan looks back with some pride on his tenure of what is, typically, one of the most challenging positions in daily journalism.

”I’d been deputy for a while, so had a taste of it, but, when I think about it now, I had no managerial training. In journalism, if you are any good, you just get pushed up the ladder.

”I was chief reporter for nine and a-half years. It’s an emotional, passionate job. You live and breathe it. And sometimes, perhaps, I rode rough-shod over someone’s feelings.

”I probably upset a lot of people because I did it my way. I tried to lead by example and got it wrong a few times. I made mistakes and annoyed a few people. Looking back, I was probably in too much of a hurry to get things done.

”But the buck ultimately stops with you. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, you’re buggered. There was a lot of pressure to that, a lot of long hours.”

From what I’ve heard it was not a glamorous or particularly well paid job, but it was hard work.

This is an interesting profile of an old school reporter.

Nashing of journo teeth

Much knashing of journo teeth yesterday when Labour MP Stuart Nash fell foul of Newshub reporter Jenna Lynch, who slammed him in Opinion: Embracing my bare face:

I’m not usually that keen on plastering pictures of myself everywhere, but today this is the face that spawned the following completely uninvited comments.

“You look unwell.”

“Gosh, did you have a rough night?”

I’m not a massive fan of makeup. Sure, I wear it because I have to, but prior to working at Newshub I owned a shamefully old tube of mascara and a bb cream, neither of which I applied all that often.

Now it’s full face every day.

This morning, I decided to give the old pores a break and let my skin breathe.

I have a reasonable sense of self-esteem; you have to around this place. It’s one of the things they should teach at journalism school. Develop a thick skin, and fast.

But that thick skin was pierced today, completely unnecessarily.

Labour MP Stuart Nash walked in trying to sell some bloody story about cops.

He looked shocked, almost offended at my face.

“Gosh, did you have a rough night?”

No I didn’t. Unless you call being curled on the couch watching a movie with my partner a “rough night”.

Let’s just say he was quick to bolt from the office.

My question is: what right do you have to walk into my office and spout that?

Would you ever walk in and ask my male colleagues the same thing?

It’s quite frankly rude and disgraceful.

Women not wearing make-up shouldn’t shock people. Just as women wearing makeup shouldn’t shock people. Wear whatever the hell you like.

But more importantly, even if it does shock you, don’t announce it. Don’t belittle someone and rain all over their self esteem for the hell of it.

Shame on you Stuart Nash, I feel sorry for the women you work with on a day-to-day basis if you hold them to the same standard.

And for the record. I’m fine with my face. If you can’t accept it, you know where the door is. Show yourself out.

Lynch received support for this retort on Twitter.

I think it’s an over the top reaction, even perhaps abusing the power of the press

But Nash rushed out a response:

Newshub: Labour MP Stuart Nash apologises to Newshub reporter over ‘rough night’ comment:

Labour MP Stuart Nash has said sorry to Newshub political reporter Jenna Lynch after telling her she looked as though she’d had a “rough night”.

“Look, I don’t go out of my way to offend anyone at all – I’m very apologetic,” he said.

“I’m sorry that Jenna took offence and I apologise unreservedly – I completely regret saying what I did.”

 I think that Lynch read much more into Nash’s comment than was actually said, but Nash obviously decided to try and calm the press gallery waters.

Is this creating aa situation where MPs not only have to be careful about how they word things in case the public or social media takes offence, but they also have to pussy foot around journalists in case something is taken the wrong way or out of proportion to what was said?

Are they happy to publish all sorts of attacks on others, but are precious petals when something is directed at them?

Would journalists prefer to only receive communications from MPs via sterile press releases?

I have serious concerns about Lynch rushing to press to slam Nash for what seems to me to be a fairly innocuous observation that didn’t refer to a lack of make up at all (as reported by Lynch).

“A rough night” is a fairly common and non-specific term.

Perhaps Nash just caught Lynch at a bad moment, but she went to quite a bit of deliberate effort in response, using and perhaps abusing the power of the press.

Do they really want the press gallery floor covered in eggshells?

Nash got well and truly publicly knashed over this.

It’s ironic to see reporters being so sensitive to being slighted given how they go hard on many stories seemingly without caring about collateral personal damage.

Surely there are better and more adult ways of dealing with things like offense taken over “Gosh, did you have a rough night?”

Gosh, reporters often give politicians fairly (and sometimes unfairly) rough nights and rough days in the press and on the airwaves and online.