My three months of news adventure

10/01/2014 16:08

DWU student reporters (L-R) Jessica Koae, Milka Akane and Daisy Pakawa.


By Daisy Pakawa, DWU student reporter    

THE last three months at the Post-Courier was an awesome hectic adventure. Every day was unique. One day I’m hot and hungry and in the middle of nowhere, listening to old people talk about law and order problems. The next day, I'm in an Asian restaurant eating suspicious food and listening to politics. Then comes the rush to write the story and meet deadlines. I just completed the first of four years that I will be spend studying Communication Arts at Divine Word University, but I already know I’ll enjoy being a journalist.
First day at work
My course mates (Milka Akane, Jessica Koae, Augustine Chaslon) and I were so excited about working with Post-Courier that we started a day after we returned from Madang.
On the first day, the Chief of Staff, Gorethy Kenneth asked us if we knew who the Post-Courier editor was. Our reply was silence and blank looks (I wasn’t willing to admit that he was my Facebook friend because I thought that was unprofessional). Then she asked what rounds (sort of reporting: sports, business, etc.) we’ll be doing. Milka replied, “You mean which part of the city we’ll be covering?” That’s how ignorant we were when we first arrived.
The Air Niugini head office was my first destination as a journalist. Although I didn’t want to go leave my friends, I was too shy to say so. As I was walking up to the Air Niugini receptionist, all sorts of thoughts were running through my mind; what are journalists expected to do? what will I say? OMG I'm sweating like a pig! and etc.  Fortunately for me, I arrived just as the event ended and the other journalists were leaving. After getting notes and advice from the PR officer, I marched to the car park and realised that I didn’t know what Post-Courier car I had come in. To make matters worse, my phone was hungry and decided to die on me. So I caught bus from Six Mile to Konedobu where the Post-Courier office was located and that was my first day.
My first article came out on a Friday. Although it had just 200 words and the picture (which I didn’t take) was six times bigger, I was so proud of myself. On Monday, the Air Niugini Public Relations Department called to say I had forgotten to add to two extra zeros into the digits in my article. I blame that on the-first-day-of-work-nerves.
I followed the same routine every morning after that. Once I get a Post-Courier newspaper, I immediately flip to my articles. Read those five times to check if there were any mistakes and to bask in the glory of seeing my own name on paper. Then go back to the front page and read my way through other articles. I have a scrap book filled with my own articles.
Newsroom highlights
A week later, I was given a lead into the OTML strike. So I emailed the OTML Public Relations office for a comment and was told to wait. They didn’t reply that day so I went ahead and wrote the article, without naming my sources and added at the end that OTML was still discussing ways to solve the problem. A story, without my by line came out the next day, as well as an email from someone at the OTML PR department asking if I had written that article. I didn’t reply so he emailed again and called me an “incompetent journalist who should have known better because I was fresh out of university”.   That hurt and I panicked too. So I forwarded the emails to Gorethy and she told him to talk/email her. I felt like a coward but was very relieved when he stopped emailing me.
In November, the chief photographer, Tarami Legei and I went to cover the International Training Institute’s graduation ceremony. I almost dropped dead from a heart attack during the ceremony when the MC said, “Now we’ll a representative from Post-Courier, Daisy to come and present these certificates”. The first thing I did was yell Tarami’s name. Somehow, the next minute found me on stage, exchanging certificates for handshakes while frantically chewing a tiny wad of PK to get rid of nervous energy. I'm 18 so I think all those people I shook hands with were older than me. Afterward I recounted the experience to my friends and they asked if I had said “congratulations” when giving out the certificates. Sorry but how was I supposed to know that was part of the deal?
DWU student reporter Daisy Pakawa takes on a new role of presenting certificates at a graduation.

Then along came the episode that gave me the nickname “traumatised victim”. The week before it happened, Post-Courier had published stories going against the defacing of the Parliament and the Office of the Speaker invited us for an exclusive interview the Speaker, Theodore Zerenuoc. Since Maureen Gerawa, Tarami Legei and I had arrived early, we decided to pass time outside. I was listening to music when out of the blue comes two frustrated men from the Speaker’s office. Next minute we are getting earfuls of verbal abuse about Post-Courier journalists being “incompetent and using propaganda to spoil the reputation of a good man just to sell more papers”. The finger pointing must have been too much for Tarami because the next instant, he was standing nose to nose with the guy and telling him to back off. The other officer from the Speakers office had to calm his friend before he went on to explain why the Speaker was defacing the Parliament. The next day that story appeared on a prominent page in Post-Courier. Although the man behaved in an improper manner, I wasn’t pleased with the article. It made the Speaker look worse even though he didn’t personally send them. It also read “the female journalists were shaken up and traumatised after the public humiliation”. I was caught off guard by the incident but I'm not fragile. I know when to ignore people or when to run and scream for help.
I spent one afternoon talking to retired soldiers and widows regarding money owed to them by the PNG Defence Force. My dad is also an ex-soldier and although it’s been years, I still recognized some of them from my childhood days. I lived in the same Barracks with them, went to school with their kids, went to their husband’s funeral, remembered the younger and happier people they used to be. Some of the older men and widows cried while telling their story and it broke my heart. Call me naïve but this is the type of journalism I want to do; the average Papua New Guinean’s struggle. It might not have perks but I don’t want to do free advertisements by writing how generous an organisation was. Or about something good a PM did because it still won’t be able to balance out the amount of things he didn’t do. I want to portray PNG the way it is.
Being a developing country, PNG lacks in many places.  The best part about being a journalist is being able to help development take place. I can dig up dirt and hold people accountable for their actions. I can point out, through my coverage of an issue, what should be developed.  Plus, we form public opinion. If I don’t write it, you wouldn’t know it. How cool is that?
The lessons learnt
I’ve learnt about a wide range of topic from charity organisations to big businesses, I’ve been to labour wards and funeral homes, talked to farmers and politicians etc. Saw theory being put into practise and made many mistakes which I'm sure would make me a better journalist. I also learnt that journalism has constraints and is sometimes dangerous. I'm also proud to announce that I'm more confident and knowledgeable about issues affecting my country.
I went through my high school diary the other day and discovered that when I was in grade 12, I wrote that I wanted to work as a Post-Courier journalist.  After the last three months experience, I wouldn’t mind returning here after I get out of DWU.