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Life in the newsroom

Rosalie Willis
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ON my first visit to The Fiji Times I was shown around the whole building and introduced to everyone.

Not just the team I would be working with, but everyone from the IT guys to the librarians. Over a few very short weeks I have been taken under the wings of the reporters and staff and become a part of The Fiji Times team.

My first week involved following the Fiji Bati Rugby League team around in the lead-up to their Tri-Nations clash with Australia and Papua New Guinea.

As an avid sports lover, being part of the sports team was ideal for me. Successfully reporting on politics, business and local news involves an in-depth knowledge on the history of the country, the economy, local culture and a large list of contacts. While I have some knowledge of these things, the rules of rugby are the same in New Zealand where I'm from, as they are in Fiji. As I have a comprehensive knowledge of many sports and enjoy watching a good game of rugby, the sports team has been the perfect fit for me. Being from the same part of the world as Fiji, the popular sports played in New Zealand are also the popular sports enjoyed by the sports fans in Fiji.

But back to The Fiji Times team … having joined the team at the peak of the lead-up to the Rugby League World Cup and Pacific Tri-Nations I went out with different people each day to do interviews not only the Bati Boys but with the Australian and PNG teams too.

I learnt on my first morning of work that even in a newsroom that produces a daily paper, Fiji time is an actual time system.

We waited two hours out in the sun at Albert Park for the Fiji Bati to arrive even though they were staying just across the road at the Holiday Inn.

Multiple times we have had to wait for hours to do interviews that only lasted a few minutes. From my perspective this feels like an unproductive use of time, however, what I have learnt from the Fijian culture is that everything works out. You might take a different route to get there, but the work gets done, the paper goes out every day.

Reporting on the Tri-Nations meant that I was able to work with staff from different areas such as the editors and online team.

The support the whole time for someone who is not a local was amazing. Having contacts is extremely important for journalists and this was what I found hardest working for The Fiji Times. I had to rely on my colleagues to graciously give me "news tips" every day and find contacts for me to talk to. However after a week I was able to go out independently to get stories thanks to the drivers and photographers who knew where they were going!

I have covered a number of sports from rugby to table tennis, hockey to interhash — which I had never even heard of before! Consequently this opens the door to more opportunities to cover a vast array of sports. I have had the freedom to cover stories that take my interest and report on multiple sports.

From my first interview with NRL star Jarryd Hayne to poolside interviews with the Bati boys and phone interviews trying to get my head around what interhash is — every day has been different.

Every day has provided opportunities to meet new people, learn about minor sports and experience how a small 148-year-old newspaper operates.

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