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Herald Sun intern debacle is a hard lesson in newsroom culture

The fury unleashed on a young Melbourne University student for writing about her internship at Australia’s biggest selling newspaper provides lessons for us all. For those at the Herald Sun, it should…

An internship at The Herald Sun is not for everyone. AAP/Joe Castro

The fury unleashed on a young Melbourne University student for writing about her internship at Australia’s biggest selling newspaper provides lessons for us all.

For those at the Herald Sun, it should be a moment to take a deep breath and think: “Is that really how the world might see us in our unguarded moments?”

For those sending students on such a placement it’s a chance to consider: “Have we sent the right person to the right place?”

For the student themselves, it’s a chance to stop and think, “Is this really the employer for me?” It might be the right career, it might just not be the right workplace.

At university, students often have a romantic idea of what it’s like to work in their chosen profession. Consider, the time-watching lawyer who set out to defend the innocent, the bulk-billing doctor who wanted to cure cancer but spends the day writing medical certificates, and the disillusioned social worker telling people they are there to help, but the services aren’t available.

Organisations have an image that they like to project, but it’s only until someone is on the inside that they can determine what it’s truly like. That’s why I think the Herald Sun should be commended for offering a “warts and all” opportunity in their newsroom to potential journalists.

Some of my best and brightest students have interned at the Herald Sun, and later been offered jobs. It hasn’t been a perfect fit for all, but many have thrived under some great mentoring by some great journalists. And just as the Herald Sun won’t be the right fit for some, neither would the ABC be right for others.

Of course, no one sending a student on an internship from any Australian university would condone sexism, racism, or any other form of discrimination. We have a duty of care to students. They should not be exposed to these kinds of things, but they do need to be prepared for them. They are, sadly, part of many workplace cultures – not just some newsrooms.

Journalists are often on the frontline of some of the most dreadful tragedies, accidents and sorrows. They have perfected the art of black humour. Are newsrooms filled with sexism, racism, and misogyny? Honestly? Yes. Is this behaviour peculiar to the Herald Sun? Absolutely not. Is it acceptable? Well, I don’t need to answer that.

Students need careful and thoughtful preparation before they enter a workplace. Being an adult worker doesn’t just require technical and theoretical skills – as anyone who has run the gauntlet of office politics knows, you need a special range of powers to successfully work with anyone.

The student wrote:

Our journalism lecturers teach us that one of the most important rules in an internship is to not question your superiors. Don’t rock the boat, don’t tell the editors how to do their job, don’t make a mess, and don’t cause a fuss.

Yes, while you are an intern, that’s exactly the best advice. It doesn’t matter if you’re interning in a newsroom, or in a hospital ward – students are there to observe, to learn. Part of it is to observe the culture and to see if it’s a good fit.

But what should happen, on the return to university, is for a debrief process to occur. After all, there’s a lot to discuss with a mentor and a guide. What went right? What went wrong? What do you do when you really want or need to speak up? Where can I go for help?

Negotiating difficult workplace cultures is hard – and there are a huge range of organisations out there offering skills training for people who struggle with this. Trying to determine the difference between black humour and something else is difficult for us all and impossible for many.

Most universities have a huge emphasis on ethics. We want to send students out with good habits, not bad ones. We don’t want to be responsible for people like Jonah Lehrer. But many workplaces are filled with older staff, many of whom have joked and laughed through too many tragedies, usually as a way of coping. It’s part of the challenge of the new generation to change inappropriate attitudes.

I’ve always said that if you want to change something, you need to be part of it. It can’t be done from the outside. Individual people do have agency, and they can change things – given the right institutional environment.

Join the conversation

80 Comments sorted by

  1. Scott Brown

    PhD Candidate, UNSW

    In this debate, I've read several articles gifting journalists a pass on workplace racism, sexism and so on, because they're "on the frontline" of something or other. There are plenty of professions that are exposed to all manner of tragedy that are still expected to uphold acceptable behavior, especially when someone impressionable like an intern is present. What if the social worker you mention was to use the same language?

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    1. William Pinskey

      Accountant

      In reply to Scott Brown

      Hear hear.

      I doubt I would ever hear a paramedic claim for their right to be mysoginistic or blatantly racist because they are "on the frontline".

      A cop-out of the highest order.

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    2. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Engineer

      In reply to Scott Brown

      This particular student was offended because someone opened a door for her
      which was someone exercising in his own light respect and good manners which obviously this particular person did not warrant. I hope that any prospective employer reads her article when considering employment for an insight into what they would be getting.

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    3. Ronson Dalby

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      I found it hard to get past that. I see people opening doors, standing back in lifts etc all day regardless of the combination of the sexes. It's not sexism, it's manners.

      This student comes across as a wee bit too precious and if this is an example of the attitude she portrayed during the week, then I think she may've been quite a difficult person to put up with.

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    4. Leo Bi

      Consultant

      In reply to Ronson Dalby

      I think you guys might be getting a little bit hung up on a couple dozen words. To have your only conversation lead towards character assassination is a wee bit immature when there are so many other things to consider here.

      Perhaps the student is 'overly' sensitive. But it is also just as possible that the herald sun offices have a rotten, even corrupt, culture.

      The impact of an overly sensitive individual is relatively minor.... to the impacts of having the authors of one of Melbourne highest selling newspapers operating in a perverse working environment.

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    5. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Scott Brown

      I read the article written by the intern, and to be frank, I was embarassed by her naivety.

      She may be only young and inexperienced, but her words suggested she has led a very sheltered life. Oh dear - some journalists hold homophobic views. Really?

      And statements like this are just off the planet:
      "....Men were also continuously and unnecessarily sexist, waiting for me to walk through doors and leave the elevator before them...."
      "....The Hun’s approach is both deluded and wrong. Basic fact checking would have refuted many of the heteronormative, white, elitist opinions expressed in that building regarding gender and trans people....."

      It seems her friends at uni are a little more worldly than her: "....Many of my peers and friends were unimpressed when I spoke to them of my experiences throughout the week, ‘What did you expect?’ they asked, rolling their eyes....."

      This young girl really needs to get out more.

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    6. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Scott Brown

      If you were to spend time in an ambulance or at a fire station you'd find exactly the same sort of black humour. In fact, go to any workplace in which periodic extreme stress is a normal part of life (you'll have to go outside the grounds of the uni, of course) and you'll find a similar response within the group. The interactions outside the group may be entirely "proper" and in accordance with all the petty laws that have been foisted on us to protect delicate souls like Ms Burden, but inside the group some privilege is taken for granted.

      That response is self-protective; it allows people to deal with situations that are not "normative" without breaking down.

      This intern was accepted into a closed shop and she betrayed the trust of the group into which she was invited. That's contemptible in my view.

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    7. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Leo Bi

      I can easily imagine an employee opening a door for a female only to take the oppertunity to perve on her behind. Now I'm not saying this definitely happened but its not that far fetched, I see similar things happen all the time in my work place and the worst part is that people think that the other person doesnt know, they do.

      Or even that hazy look from a guy in the workplace, women are subjected to a constant barrage of these stares, glares and perves all the time, they can recognise them when they happen and it makes many feel very insecure and uncomfortable.

      The idea that nothing like this happened and this girl is making the whole thing up is less likely in my mind than the idea that the herald sun has some ingrained sexism in its workplace culture

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    8. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Scott Brown

      I agree, Scott, having run into far many journos and others who've decided for themselves to take ownership of the 'front line', what many of us in Anthropology call the coal face and other such notions. But they don't own it. We all have our self-protective aberrations that differ from what 'the norm' might anticipate.

      Ambulance drivers, nurses, police and firemen might make a culture of their task, but none of them write about it, are not called to write about it, and are not judged on what…

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    9. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I've been particularly intrigued by the exchanges in this thread. There is a willingness to accept the students account as genuine and too automatically assume the worst about the culture of the Herald Sun newsroom.

      Just because we don't like the content of a tabloid newspaper, which has a very defined audience, I don't think should extend our prejudices to a workplace culture that we have not experienced ourselves.

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    10. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      As a former editor/journalist for News Ltd and Fairfax, and now working with climate scientists, I find this comment completely unfair and to be honest quite bizarre. I hope it is an intellectual's attempt at humour, because it shows no understanding of media or the craft of a reporter.

      One of the key things I miss about journalism is the ability I had to help someone every single week through my job.

      Equally, I made many very personal, long-lasting connections through the job with the people…

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    11. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      That's a reasonable comment. I've fallen into the same fallacy, to my regret.

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    12. In reply to Alvin Stone

      Comment removed by moderator.

    13. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      I think my point Nancy was that there was an automatic assumption from some in this thread that her account was a genuine reflection of the news room. This seemed to be because they did not like the content of the newspaper and then felt they could assume the worst on the behalf of the newsroom's culture.

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    14. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      We all, 'help people', Alvin. It is always the case that most people are functionally illiterate and turn to someone who can write for help. There is nobody known to be a writer free of that knock on the door from someone seeking help putting words together. But there are also ethics, common decency and good behaviour.

      In Scotland, the old word for solicitor was in fact, writer. Lawyers still today have that pocket hanging from the back of their gown, for people to put money in when they've done…

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    15. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      The only reason for the acceptance of the account as a genuine reflection of the news room is the bitter experience of many others, happy to add to the account and confirm its veracity, Alvin, especially here in the face of your lame, distractive apologetics.

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    16. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      You say: "the issue with journos is that they are neither required to critically reflect, or to analyse or engage theoretical arguments on its meaning, its ontological and epistemological status if you will."

      Exactly right. They are required to report (hence the name reporters). Opinion makers and the commentariat engage in that process.

      Later you accuse them of living in ivory towers unlike everybody else when you say: "Journalists do not live on the front line, they do not live in the reality…

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    17. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      So Gil, you have worked in a newsroom then. Please add your account to help confirm the veracity of the intern's perceptions.

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    18. Paul Atkinson

      Social Worker

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Come on Alvin, you argue a bizarre point, effectively: just because the Herald Sun publishes bigoted, racist and sexist content, it doesn't mean that the culture in the newsroom is bigoted, racist and sexist. I am more interested in their output than the process but it is very easy to imagine that the newsroom culture aligns with the obvious bias in the articles.

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    19. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Atkinson

      And this is where opinion columns get mixed up with newsrooms. I agree on opinions and those idiot columnists like Bolt who for a large part are bigoted, racist and sexist. However they do not work in the news room and they do it just to make noise. If people stopped reading them they would lose their jobs.
      But have a look at the top 5 stories on the Herald Sun today from the newsroom: Mistress gets share of fortune; Killer may have been new arrival; Man bashed on dance floor; Three strikes, breast cancer is out; Top 10 Olympic magic moments.
      This is all straight reporting.

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    20. Kathleen Cobcroft

      Librarian

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Actually, that can really wear you down if it's sex-based "politeness." Don't get me wrong, I hold doors for people and I say thanks when they're held for me. It's nice when people hold a door for the next person, especially when you're carrying something. It's when I'm in a situation where guys *always* hold open the door and refuse to have it held for them because I'm a "lady", or want to push in my chair because it was a more convenient way for women in the 19th Century to sit down in their hoop skirts that it gets fricken weird.

      I'm not Gen Y , BTW.

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  2. David Collett
    David Collett is a Friend of The Conversation.

    IT Application Developer at Web Generation

    I liked this article a lot.

    I'm doing a uni masters at the moment in the area I work in, and there is a tension between what is taught and what I experience. I thought the article drew out and discussed this tension really well.

    Thanks!

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    1. David Collett
      David Collett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      IT Application Developer at Web Generation

      In reply to David Collett

      Just to clarify, I liked Alexandra Wake's article.

      I thought the the student's article was an interesting cultural phenomen, revealing the difference between the student's expectations and reality - which is the tensions which interests me - what we are taught and what we experience.

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  3. Alvin Stone

    logged in via Facebook

    As a former editor, I picked up the students article with interest and then read it with growing dismay.

    Newsrooms act and react according to the people around them. I have been in rough and tumble and rude newsrooms and I have been in newsrooms where the standard of behaviour has been much higher.

    The difference was the people. As soon as we recognised someone was offended by something, we put that out of our conversation or actions.

    This intern sat quietly, made no comment giving no…

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    1. Chris Funkmonkey Johnson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Get over it. You journos apparently have the right to publish opinion pieces with little to no proof or research in the name of journalism. As soon as the tables are turned and someone writes something about a journo, all hell breaks looks.

      This is hypocrasy in its purest form. "We are the people with journalism degrees, only we have the right to print an opinion. Everyone else are hacks"

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    2. Chris Funkmonkey Johnson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Funkmonkey Johnson

      TL;DR If opinionated rambling about a random irrelevant subject and getting it printed is good enough for Andrew Bolt then its good enough for someone with intelligence.

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    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Funkmonkey Johnson

      Dear Chris, you are confusing opinion writers with journalists. I believe opinion writers have destroyed the credibility of the craft but they are not reporters.

      Journalists often write about journalists - any bookshop will show you that.

      I was an editor. I did not have a journalism degree, I learned my craft at the feet of sub-editors and old journos.

      Sadly, many of the journalism students straight out of universities came to me with no interview skills, poor research skills and an astonishing…

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  4. Comment removed by moderator.

  5. John Ferguson

    Victorian political editor The Australian

    I worked at the Herald Sun for a long time and suspect the most accurate part of the intern's piece was that the men wait for the women to go through the doors first. The suggestion of racism and misogyny is nonsense. Was never, ever tolerated in my 12 years there and the interns were always treated with respect. No doubt there is black humour, just as there is any workplace, but it is a very modern workplace and no different to any other newsroom I've worked in.

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    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      Considering women make up a very high percentage of newsrooms, I would be very surprised to find a culture would suddenly change to viciously attack them as a sex.

      I agree with John about the black humour. I once had a small team of journos, three girls and one guy. One girl was a lesbian, one girl was a dark skinned immigrant, one girl was Irish and the guy was a very polite, very left-wing Australian journo of great gravitas and class. It was the funniest, rudest most delightful team I ever…

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    2. In reply to Alvin Stone

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      You are right, I don't know. Things could change but based on my experience as a newspaper journalist, my estimation is that she will struggle to perform in a newsroom environment for a large number of reasons, most of which this story highlights.

      However, I do believe after looking at another piece she wrote that she will very likely have a career as a writer of some kind.

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  6. Richard Wilson

    Anglican Priest

    After 30 years in government and business and now the Church, I have observed that it is always the individual personalities which make the working environment. Certainly a strong organisational leader sets the tone for the whole enterprise but when you get down to the nitty gritty, each person contributes their own personality and predilections, for better or worse. To assign a character absolutely to an organisation is absurd.

    The hard lesson for people joining the workforce is that you have to encounter a wide range of people. Some you will love others you may come to hate. It is up to each individual to make change according to their own lights and strengths. This is true also of Universities. Surely this student knew this? She should have.

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  7. Seán McNally

    Market and Social Researcher at eris strategy

    After reading the student's article I feel they have a good career ahead of them in sensationalising nothing. However, if they feel it inappropriate for people to express their opinions on others then a career in a profession based on expressing opinions on others is not a good choice. The student’s attempt to come across as more civilised and her target of derision as Huns, just came across as an immature self-important rant of someone trying force in as many cultural/ feminist study clichés as they could in their word limit.

    Alexandra’s article however, I found enlightening. Perhaps the debriefing process at the university needs to remind students that learning also requires suspending judgment of others. An approach I use when working with new researchers and consultants to get them past superficial and sometimes disheartening experiences with learning about others.

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  8. Rajan Venkataraman

    Citizen

    Dear Alexandra, on this I'm afraid you've allowed yourself to fall for a classic beat-up. The article by 'anonymous' has a catchy title, but has very little by way of content. There are surely interesting insider stories to tell about newsroom culture, but unfortunately 'anonymous' doesn't pull it off and this doesn't say much for his/her journalistic skills or training.

    I will get criticised for saying this, but I too wonder how people can get 200kg overweight; I don't necessarily criticise…

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    1. Diana Brown

      Parent; language student

      In reply to Rajan Venkataraman

      RV: loved your comment, agree completely with your common-sense take on it. Workplace bullying is a major problem in Aus and this article isn't about that. I think it's just about being very young, inexperienced and over-sensitive, and at the same time maintaining an unshakeable belief in one's own high moral ground.

      Incidentally, re: workplace bullying - no amount of legislation will ever stop it. That just serves to drive it deeper, so it becomes more covert. It still continues. It will continue while workplaces are populated by people. Fact of life! maybe we should all grow up and deal with that, rather than taking offence at every little imagined slight, often taking offence on behalf of groups of people we've never even met. Ho hum.

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  9. Roberto Crispino

    Public Servant

    I've read the article and I do agree that the intern was either living a sheltered life or had the intention of creating mountains out of mole hills. The standard of behaviour of the journalists could be better but hardly condemning. Most workplaces are worse.
    I do not believe that there is a need to close the gap between University Education and the workplace. Unis are places for ideals and people still need to know that at the outset. Otherwise, if people learn everything from the workplace, they would lose perspective.
    I only wonder how much worse she would have fared if she interned with The Australian or the Daily Telegraph. I do say that if her intention from the start was to dig dirt on the Hun, then she is in the right profession and probably has a desk waiting for her in the News of the World.

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  10. Jason Bryce

    logged in via Twitter

    Your question mark key must be worn out after writing this.

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  11. Chris Funkmonkey Johnson

    logged in via Facebook

    And whats the difference between putting up with the crap in an eliteist workforce as opposed to everyone elses job? The fact that when someone in an eliteist job is whinging, all of a sudden there is massive national debate over the treatment of workers.
    How about trying to sort out the mistreatment of workers that DONT get to publish articles whinging about how their last 2 weeks of work experience were soooooooooooooo hard. How about trying to stop people like John Moncrieff (MonJon, The Lunch Club) reporting his ex employees to the AFP for terrorism? How about Finding out WHY social workers dont have enough resources to help people? How about finding out why we REALLY have a carbon tax?
    Or better yet, how about we try and figure out why these people in elite journalism jobs, STILL INSIST on printing articles with basic spelling and grammar errors in them???

    I couldnt give two shits about a journalism intern, dont like the job daddy arranged for you? Go do a real job.

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    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Funkmonkey Johnson

      What makes journalism an elitist craft, Chris? Anyone with a basic understanding of language can do it if they are willing to put in the hours to learn.

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    2. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      I suspect that, like many ordinary people, Chris sees the media as part of the politico-cultural elite. Those who have access to the presses assume a defacto authority that is not possessed by the rest of us.

      From my own perspective, many journalists bring their own prejudices (often including their own preferred commentariat/informants) to the job and the quality of reportage has declined significantly over the years. Far too much s simply the regurgitation of press releases under a byline…

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  12. Dennis Alexander

    logged in via LinkedIn

    It is interesting that most, if not all of the negative comments, particularly those about the intern, are written by men. Men whom I am sure would love their sisters, spouses or daughters, should they have such, to have the same felt experiences as the intern. There is not and never has been one "real" world inhabited by those with a worldly outlook and common sense (usually asserted by men self identified as such) and one unreal world inhabited by those who have higher expectations of professionals and the cultures they create. There is one world and we create it and experience it as social individuals, sometimes with care for others and sometimes without: on the whole, even when I fail to live up to it, I prefer the "with care for others" option.

    NB: Scott Brown is not negative, but may have mistaken the authorial intention which was not to excuse the journos.

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    1. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      I would like to hope that I have raised my daughter to be better-mannered than this rather petulant "homonormative" young woman.

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    2. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to account deleted

      I would hope that if your daughter had such an experience you would be a little more understanding

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    3. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Shand

      My daughter is planning a career in journalism, as it happens. It seems unlikely that she'll ever have an experience like Ms Burden's however, lacking the prejudices that s Burden brings to the table.

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    4. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to account deleted

      I note that the response directly above this one has a net 12 "dislikes" (in fact, all of my comments have a net of several dislikes, even the one merely asking the question "What is a "MRA"?), yet none of the craven "dislikers" have sufficient courage of thei convictions to comment on why they "dislike" it.

      I'll hazard a guess that Ms Burden has recruited some of her friends for a little campaign of button-pushing.

      Now, there's nothing wrong with expressing one's opinion through use of the…

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    5. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to account deleted

      I note another couple of strangely-mute monkeys have been recruited to push buttons...

      I'm sure there is much squawking and screeching happening too...

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  13. Knut Cayce

    logged in via Twitter

    My late mother, a journalist in South Africa for 40-years, was a recently divorced parent of two & unemployed Arts graduate with a triple major in English, Psychology & Music when she joined EP Newspapers in 1950. Journalists of her era in South Africa were predominantly male. Few had been to university and none who had, had studied Journalism, the United States being the only English-speaking nation to offer 'vocational' degrees in subjects like news writing and, as some would have it, flower arranging…

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    1. William Pinskey

      Accountant

      In reply to Knut Cayce

      "The standard against which a journalist was measured was the quality of his/her interactions with the public, which did not include other journalists in the relative privacy of the news room, and what appeared in print the next day. A news story consisted of verifiable fact; opinions were for the editor."

      I agree wholly with this statement. However, you will be hard pressed to find any such reporting in any MSM provider, particularly one as lowbrow as the Hun. Regardless of how businesses and…

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Knut Cayce

      Just about sums up the 'NZ Truth' in the early 60's. The only know university journalism graduate working on a newspaper at that time was Jill Shadbolt, at 'Truth'. The rest had learned their craft working their way up in the newsroom.
      A little later Wellington Polytech provided a program run by a journalist, accepting only cadets already employed in a newspaper, and the the lecturers were working journalists, whenever possible the best in their fields.
      Old hands were generally of the opinion that these 'kids' would, or at least ought to be, better journalists than those who went before.

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    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Knut Cayce

      Still, a lovely picture of life in a newspaper. Thanks Knut for that.

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    4. Diana Brown

      Parent; language student

      In reply to Knut Cayce

      Knut, that was a great message. Loved the 'i'm sorry this letter is so long, i didn't have time to make it shorter' line at the end, too.

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  14. Comment removed by moderator.

  15. Mick Matheson

    Journalist

    There's a naive hypocracy in the anonymous student's article. She has made her name (if we knew it) on the sort of opinion piece that would do the Herald Sun proud.

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  16. John Harrison

    Senior Lecturer at University of Queensland

    My observation is that an “internship” should not be a journalism student’s first exposure to a newsroom, and to newsroom cultures – which of course vary across the media spectrum. We need to consider a variety of forms of ‘work integrated learning’ – no it’s a not a weasel word - but a way of defining the infinite range of learning experiences for students which contribute to their professional socialization. This observation is not meant to be critical of those who manage student placements in journalism, but comes from my current experience as the undergraduate program director at the largest journalism school in Australia – UQ.

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    1. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Harrison

      A very insightful comment. I suspect this young woman spends a great deal of her life in an environment in which men are rarely seen and never heard, and the few that are tolerated are not representative of the mainstream. In other words, she belongs to a particular, quite insular subculture of aggressively feminist, "bohemian" lesbians. I'd recommend her piece "How to be my Girlfriend", also published by Farrago to anyone who cares to dispute this take.

      http://union.unimelb.edu.au/farrago/creative/how-to-be-my-girlfriend

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    2. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      What is a "MRA"?

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    3. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to account deleted

      Ah, presumably you mean "Men's Rights Activist".

      I'd not have said so. I don't belong to any groups that practise such a thing, I have no affiliations with such organisations, I don't know anybody belonging to such organisations.

      On the other hand, I AM a man and I do have a sense that the role of men in Australia is belittled and denigrated at every turn, while the whims of people like the subject of this story are pandered to at every turn.

      Does that clarify things?

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    4. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Harrison

      A good point John. At the very least it would be interesting to create some kind of newsroom as part of a course and have students put together at least weekly newspapers over 10 weeks (online is fine) with a professional journalist/sub editor with deadlines, word counts and heavy subbing where required.

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    5. Diana Brown

      Parent; language student

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      You mean they don't already do this as part of the course??? why on earth not????

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    6. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to account deleted

      Well Nancy, I answered your question honestly, what was the point? This is a "conversation", not an interrogation, and you haven't had the basic politeness to respond when I did as you asked. Tsk, tsk.

      Let me ask you, in turn (answer honestly now): are you a feminist activist or a lesbian who sympathises with Ms Burden's view for reasons of "sororal solidarity"? Or are you simply one of the "infinite monkeys" that Ms Burden or one of her sympathisers seems to have arranged to push buttons?

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    7. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Diana Brown

      Now don't be silly: deadlines, word counts and heavy subbing are all such patriarchal constructs, with no place in a modern journalism faculty.

      Heavens, do you want to cause an epidemic of mental illness among the students and let's not even THINK about the effect on teaching staff...

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    8. Diana Brown

      Parent; language student

      In reply to account deleted

      V. funny! but still, we do have deadlines and word counts in any discipline, in all the dreaded assignments. I do think it odd that any course would fail to teach the basic core stuff, had no idea that was the case.

      You're up early, by the way!

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    9. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Diana Brown

      Hi Diana, indeed many disciplines have deadlines and word counts but the deadlines are weeks away and the word counts are often in the thousands.

      An opinion piece in a broadsheet seldom gets above 800 words, stories in newspapers range from 150-350 words and only sometimes go longer. Deadlines are often one day or a few hours.

      Even more importantly the essay format required in universities is a completely different process to the inverted pyramid approach used by journalists.

      Reporting…

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  17. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    Well I think the original Farrago piece was simply marvelous. What on earth is the point of writing for a student .newspaper if you can put things to paper that you cringe over 10 years later.
    Whoever she is, she has produced a gem

    " These encounters all happened in a period of two short weeks—I shudder to
    think of the other wrongdoings that must take place throughout an entire year. "

    Oh to be young again, a non-transphobic and able to express such sentiments without cracking a smile.

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  18. Michael Glass

    Teacher

    I read the comment by the student. Yes, it was interesting. No, I don't necessarily agree with all that she said. However, what surprises me is the "fury" at what she wrote!

    Why the fuss? She has a right to her opinions. She does not have to like "The Hun and the Hun doesn't have to like her."End of story.

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  19. Geoff Rehmet

    logged in via Twitter

    I wonder, after reading "Men were also continuously and unnecessarily sexist, waiting for me to walk through doors and leave the elevator before them." whether or not either the entire article was not written tongue-in-cheek. If she wishes to be taken seriously (I will assume she is speaking tongue-in-cheek, and is being good-humoured) describing chivalry as sexism does her no favours. She will probably find that most women enjoy having doors opened for them. I do hope the remark was just intended as light-hearted fun.

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    1. Maddy Jones

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Rehmet

      Geoff, I am not sure what the source of your information that "most women enjoy having doors opened for them".

      It's possible that I am not "most women" but I can tell you that I don't like having doors opened for me or having men wait for me to leave a lift first. It's a demeaning and confusing expedience having someone defer to you like this when you actually have a much lower social status. It's confusing to those of us who don't read social situations well because that situational deference so clearly isn't real. I found it hardest in my workplaces. However it's a social convention that many men appear to find difficult to break and embarrassing when it's pointed out to them.

      Now I participate in the social game because there are much more important things to deal with in my life than someone making me slightly uncomfortable while acting out of habit or thinking they are either being polite.

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    2. Geoff Rehmet

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Maddy Jones

      I am afraid that that is a lower social status, which you are conferring on yourself. If the act of respect is demeaning to you, that is only because your are unable to appreciate respect.

      You probably have also done little to observe that the act of respect has nothing to do with higher or lower social status - the fact that I open a door for a CEO or a personal assistant has nothing to do with social status, but is a statement that I acknowledge that person's human worth.

      Rather than feeling yourself demeaned, you should enjoy receiving receiving respect from others. What I suspect, however, is that rather the self-assuredness of others, be they male or female, who open doors for you is what makes you feel uncomfortable - they have the self-confidence to defer to you, which maybe you lack.

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    3. Diana Brown

      Parent; language student

      In reply to Maddy Jones

      I like having doors opened for me, especially car doors as that's of real practical help. I do not construe it as belittling, demeaning, suspicious, patronising or any of that nonsense. I like it. I am a woman. I expect to be treated as one.

      If anyone out there is offended by that, well, too bad. I am the kind of woman I want to be. I don't want to be a feminist or a man-hater or particularly political about my femininity.

      Don't tell me I'm not living in the 'real world', whatever that is, by the way. That only says that i'm not living in YOUR idea of the real world, and in many cases that's just fine by me.

      *knowing, womanly smile*

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    4. Carol Daly

      Director

      In reply to Maddy Jones

      Reading Anonymous' article (which it appears many of the above commentators haven't) I thought the discussions on the 'news' and how it is to be reported was completely in line with the abusive, sexist, trivial and poor taste of newsprint in Australia.
      The sooner the mastheads and their journalists/editors disappear, the better the public debate may become.

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    5. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carol Daly

      I suspect that when the mastheads and journalists/editors disappear we may find that public debate may in large part disappear with them.

      There is a role for the fourth estate, although I believe it has been undermined to some extent by the interests of the powerful and the rich but there still exist many fine outlets, such as The Guardian and The Globe and Mail in Canada.

      This is why I believe there needs to be a media watchdog, to temper the excesses of the current crop of Australian newspapers but I would not be praying for the demise of print.

      I keep coming back to the thought that some of the commenters have a low opinion of the tabloid Herald Sun and have extended this to all print outlets. At the same time they have given the intern's commentary a free pass because what she says align with their prejudices around the journalism in tabloid newspapers.

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  20. account deleted

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    What she said...

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/fighting-the-hun-sexist-attitudes-turn-out-to-be-pretty-small-beer-20120810-23zv7.html

    "a newsroom like the Herald Sun's is actually a microcosm of real life, something I'm not sure you're adequately prepared for, Sasha. To coexist with people not of your choosing requires a level of tolerance and humour I fear you are yet to develop. No problem. You're young. There's hope.

    And so, your shock at life outside the bliss bubble of like-minded souls at uni is understandable. It's a cacophonic mash-up of personalities and politics in the working world - as I'm sure your course teachers will explain in due time.

    You see, a lot of people have found your comments ungrateful, Sasha. That you had the opportunity to learn at the coalface of newspapers, only to ultimately decide it was all too grubby and beneath you. People who really want to learn can get shitty about things like that."

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  21. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Maddy, when I was young we always opened doors, especially car doors, for, and lit the cigarettes for the young women, particularly in work situations and when we were going out.

    When we were out shooting, poaching trout, or whatever, we gave no quarter, as they were definitely not along for decoration! On heading for home the young women would join the race for who was going to drive.

    Most of us had grown up in, or were surrounded by large families, and having seen our, and our friends mothers…

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    1. Carol Daly

      Director

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      What generation and private school do you belong to?
      Your approach to women is what she finds objectionable; don't your granddaughters?
      I am closer to your generation and I find your approach very uncomfortable and have all my life.

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  22. Mindi Kua

    logged in via Facebook

    How sad. This cocooned princess sent out into the big bad world, and not able to cope with the standards of a modern newsroom. Sounds to me like she has never been exposed to the real world, only her lesbian mates in some exclusive all girls school. Hope you harden up dear.

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