50 years of journalism at AUT

05 Dec, 2022
Journalists with microphones

This year AUT celebrates 50 years of journalism education. Currently offered as a major in the Bachelor of Communication Studies, journalism was first taught in 1972 as a diploma. Since 1972, AUT has educated hundreds of people in journalism, many of whom are still working in the field today.

Marcia Fleming, Senior Story Producer at TVNZ, was part of the first cohort of students, and says studying journalism opened a world of possibilities with many exciting opportunities along the way. “I was still at college, with lofty dreams of working as a writer or archaeologist, when the careers advisor mentioned a new journalism course at the Auckland Technical Institute. It seemed to tick the writing box so I applied and it was a first step in a life-long career. We were given a good grounding in all the basics and were expected to find our own stories.  It was a very practical course based on the idea that journalism was something you learnt on the job, not in a classroom. I understand those guiding principles still apply today. I am most grateful for the insight journalism has given me into the lives of other people, because this has enriched my own.”

Senior Lecturer of Journalism, Dr Greg Treadwell, says it’s never been a better time to study journalism. “It’s wonderful to see each new cohort of students entering the journalism major, and going on to join newsrooms in New Zealand and around the world. AUT’s journalism teaching is tightly intertwined with the industry, and we have worked hard to maintain that relationship over the years. I feel proud of the role AUT has played in the success of the New Zealand media. Our students benefit enormously from the relationship with industry as it gives them opportunities to learn from practising journalists.”

Since journalism was introduced at ATI, as it was then, the landscape graduates work in has changed immensely.

“New Zealand in 1972 was a vastly different place,” says Treadwell. “We’re talking about a country with   newspapers with strong subscriber bases, only state-funded broadcasting and of course no internet. Now our students are learning how to work as journalists in a world where AI is being employed in newsrooms, platforms like Google and Facebook have enormous power over how and where news is consumed, and a 24/7 cycle of deadlines.”

Alumni and AUT staff will celebrate the anniversary on 7 December at AUT’s City Campus, with speeches from Donna Chisholm and current student Ethan Oneroa.

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