Geirald O’Rourke, part-time news journalist at The Herald Sun

Geirald O’Rourke
"The most difficult thing I found was that I was such a small fish in a big ocean." Geirald O’Rourke, works part-time as a reporter at The Herald Sun while studying journalism. He talks to Jason English.

Having previously worked as a chef, what made you decide that you wanted to be in the media?

I always wanted to be a journalist. Working as a chef was quite nice. But at the same time, I knew journalism was something I was passionate about. So I decided that it was time for me to enrol in a course and see how well I go.

Did working as a chef help you in any way?

It has funnily enough. The thing with cooking is that there’s a process towards it. You build skills, you manage time, and you work with strict deadlines. I feel that when it came to meeting the demands of The Herald Sun, I was able to apply those skills quite easily. As a first year journalism student (at Macleay College), one thing that I’ve struggled with is that I’m not necessarily the quickest writer. But I know that if I haven’t had that hospitality experience, I know I would’ve definitely struggled with the role.

How did you start working at The Herald Sun?

One of my tutors was a retired Herald Sun journalist. Basically, I kept getting in his ear about it and got him to help me out in securing an internship. From there I spoke with a training editor, and managed to get an internship in January. During that time, I worked my guts out. While it was hard, I tried to make the most of it.

Would you say enthusiasm helped you land the job?

Yeah definitely. I mean, it worked for me! The way I approached it [the internship] was just as a several week-long job interview. Three weeks to make a good impression. Lucky for me, working in the newspaper business has always been my dream job. I really liked the idea of being a newspaper journalist.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a news writer?

When you first start off, it is easy to get a bit lost. You don’t know who to ask, or who to share ideas with. The most difficult thing I found was that I was such a small fish in a big ocean. But while it takes a bit longer to navigate yourself, on the other hand, it has been good working for an organization with such a strong reader base. The people working here are so talented in what they do. Only problem is that not a lot of them have time to sit down and discuss with you how things operate around here.

With newspaper journalism on the decline, what made you want to work here?

Oh gee. Obviously there are challenges to the newspaper business model. For written work, nobody wants to pay for the news, and we can’t really fight that. I suppose I just like the media, I quite like newspapers. Key difference with radio, TV and print; in print you’ve got more words, and more space to compile a story. You have columns and you don’t have that 20 seconds to compile the news. As well as that, I think we’re a lot more careful when it comes to written material. If someone notices a mistake in one of our articles, they’ll quickly let us know about it. Whereas radio, nobody will probably notice. I kind of like it, as it encourages us to be more active with and more attentive to correct these mistakes before publishing. I feel that we’re held to a higher standard.

With writing and hospitality skills, can we expect to see your own lifestyle cooking column in the near future?

I doubt it. I wouldn’t say ‘never’, but I’m more interested in general news and conducting interviews. I haven’t been asked to do food writing thankfully, as I’m much more interested in getting the fundamentals of journalism right before I do anything else.

Any final words of wisdom?

Realise that you’ve still got a lot to learn. Embrace that, and don’t go into this job thinking that you know everything. Present more facts than beautiful writing, and write in a simple manner. Because at the end of the day, that’s ultimately what being a journalist is all about.