Mike McRoberts imparts wisdom to aspiring journalists

Mike McRoberts.

Newshub television presenter Mike McRoberts spoke to aspiring journalists today at Massey University’s Manawatū campus.

Speaking to current Massey students and staff, as well as high school pupils from Palmerston North Girls’ High School and Queen Elizabeth College, Mr McRoberts spoke candidly about his time in the news, from his first assignment as a cadet in a radio newsroom filled with typewriters to the ever-changing newsroom and threats of fake news.

McRoberts painted a picture of an exciting, but challenging, news environment, “we don’t cover nearly as much as we used to and we rely heavily on social media for our community reach,” McRoberts said.

“Every media organisation around the world has shrinking audiences and expanding platforms that are pushing top digital. Television is a sunset industry. There might come a time when the 6pm news doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t matter where we are or what platform we are on. Good journalism has a role to play.”

Mr McRoberts reflected on some of his fondest memories as a journalist and the growing challenges. “The toughest thing we face as journalists is fake news. Separating fake and real news is a real challenge for us.”

He challenged young journalists to join the industry and join the transformation.

Mr McRoberts talking to Māori students. 

A different point of view

Speaking to a smaller group of Māori students, McRoberts spoke of the attributes of his culture which help him in the newsroom, which he initially saw as weakness.

“Our culture is not set up for investigative journalism – ‘Don’t challenge authority’, so that kind of work just wasn’t an option so I went on a different path for a while. But I found another way – to be the champion of the underdog. Tell those stories about the helpless and I started to realise that these attributes like empathy, storytelling and humour were my greatest attributes.”

His advice to Māori students was to get into the industry and add that unique point of view not only into newsrooms, but all over. 

“It’s an advantage, not a disadvantage. For me, I was able to understand protocol and culture overseas because of my background…My impact in the newsroom is not my colour, but my demeanour – your own perspective is your greatest attribute.”

Dr Steven Elers of the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing was thrilled to have Mr McRoberts on campus. 

“Having Mike engage with our students on campus aligns with one of our core Massey University values – connections.  As educators, we need to teach theory, but also we need to align theory to practice – and one way to do this is to bring exemplary practitioners onto campus”.

“It was great that local schools took up our invitation to come onto campus and participate in this event”.

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