A visit to the Nelson Mail

When I was a young teenager, I was inspired by the movie All the President’s Men to be a journalist. How exciting it would be to investigate and expose political scandals like Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman! Life took me on a different path, so I never got to experience life in a busy newsroom. Recently, I got a glimpse into that world again on a visit to the Nelson Mail offices with my tutor and classmates from NMIT’s Diploma in Writing for the Creative Industries programme.

Unlike the smoky open plan office full of clacking typewriters depicted in the movie, the Nelson Mail’s open plan space is bright, modern and uncluttered. The atmosphere was remarkably quiet considering the number of people working to deadlines in a shared environment. Nine people were in the office at the time we were there, holding meetings face to face and online, or working at their computers and on the phone to write up their articles.

Five students and their tutor crowd around the desks of Nelson Mail staff, eager to learn about the newspaper world.

Five students and their tutor crowd around the desks of Nelson Mail staff, eager to learn about the newspaper world. Photo: Jenni Komarovsky. Taken with permission.

Members of staff were incredibly generous in making time to explain to us how the paper is published and to answer our many questions.

Staff have their individual areas of interest and expertise, and there are two photographers to provide visual content – images and videos are standard in online media articles. Full time staff publish about two reports per day of around 350 to 550 words. For longer feature articles, the lead time is around a week. A lot of stories are published online first, but big stories or once that are of particular interest locally are held over until the publication days – Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Nelson Mail also publish four weekly community newspapers in between those days – these will be a focus of another blog post.

Writing media articles is one way to get published, even if you’re not a full time journalist.

Articles are evaluated for reader numbers and engagement via metrics displayed on a large screen in real time. This includes how many read each article as well as how many minutes they spend on each page and how far down they scroll.

Writing media articles is one way to get published, even if you’re not a full time journalist. There have been many changes to the world of journalism recently due to restructures and media failures due to the COVID pandemic, but the need for good quality, balanced journalism remains. The Nelson Mail does accept articles from freelance writers if they are newsworthy and fit in with their current theme. They also look for stories that have national as well as local appeal, as this content can be shared with other newspapers affiliated under the Stuff banner. Opinion pieces are also accepted.

Lisa Morley-Gray, a student in NMIT’s Diploma in Writing for the Creative Industries programme, had an article published recently on homelessness.

If you want to submit a story or pitch for writing one, contact email addresses and links appear on the footer of the Nelson Mail website.

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This blog is part of the NMIT Blog Network. The articles and comments in this blog are the opinion of the authors and not necessarily those of NMIT.