Disability Narratives & The Media

As a journalist, and as a person with a disability, this subject is of particular interest to me. Having been a part of the industry since 2015, I can tell you two things from experience.

Stories that involve disability, in any of its many contexts, are notoriously well received by most editors. At least that’s been my experience, I haven’t had a single editor throw a story back in my face and say “nobody cares”.

Quite the opposite in fact. I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a story about disability rejected.

The second thing is that context matters, background research matters, and an understanding of the long-held frustrations within the disability community is a must. That takes time, something that the news business typically does not have, but in doing so, you’ll quickly learn that language matters when stories do get published.

A phrase such as “suffers from” is a great example. It might be easy language, but it’s also inherently assumptious and places the entire life of the disabled person under an assumed cloud of suffering.

The reality is that most disabled people don’t suffer from their disability. Dealing with the toxic disability support system? Now that might be something we suffer from, but it isn’t the be all of our daily lives, because it implies the majority of us don’t have one.

As a journalist, former public speaker, current radio host, boyfriend, son, nephew, et cetera – I can assure you there is much more to life than the wheelchair in which I sit.

It’s imperative that news stories published by us in the mainstream media about disability are respectful and accurate. It’s also worth noting that journalists, and this is a mistake I’ve made in the past, aren’t always great at thinking about how a person with a disability may wish to be described.

I wrote one particular story last year, calling someone featured in my story a “disability advocate”. In my mind I thought it was ok, then I saw a tweet from the Chief Exec of a major disability organization that inferred my very article framed that particular person in what she called an “ablest narrative”.

It then dawned upon me, if ableism is to be present in how we the media report on disability, then we should probably have a look at addressing it. Simply relying on the ideology that reporting on a news story involving people with disabilities brings to light the issues impacting that community, and therefore brings about some change, is a flawed approach to have in my view.

If not, there will be a growing distrust between the disability community and the media. In our reporting of the news, and it’s also true that this goes well beyond just stories impacting people with disabilities, we need to slow down a bit and think about the wider contexts that are put in place because of the language being used.

None of that was done in some of the media coverage this week surrounding basketballer Thomas Abercrombie and his children, who also happen to be on the Autism spectrum.

Let’s hope more care is taken next time.

Diary Of A Disabled Journalist: Good Writing Process vs Cheap News

Every writer has their own particular approach to the craft, and if we are all to be honest with ourselves, even the most seasoned of us would probably admit to changing up the process several times along the way.

It’s a variable thing process – some writers can easily open up a word document and start scribing without anything other than an idea. Others will have to put a lot more into the preparation side in order to even begin writing something worth reading.

I don’t refer to myself as a ‘seasoned writer’ by any stretch, but having said that, I often forget that I have been doing this semi-professionally for well over a decade now and nearly half a decade as a journalist/reporter/columnist for a large variety of online/print mainstream media.

To me, writing process is all about setting. The delivery of a good article or blog is all about nailing that setting.

As a freelancer, my home is typically my office. If it’s not my home, probably a press box somewhere.

Given that, I’ve naturally experimented with different places of writing but one thing remains key, the less distraction the better. That’s an obvious conclusion to reach, but within distraction is also noise, and the elimination isn’t so much the actual physical distraction (like your cat jumping onto the table when working at home for instance) as it is about the noise part.

For example, I can write with a little bit of background noise, low beat music for instance, but I can’t even begin to find the concentration to write even a sentence if loud direct noise is in the room, like television audio or loud conversation.

Being a journalist and having to meet deadlines teaches the need for speed when it comes to writing. But it also teaches about detail, working out just what to leave in a story and what can be taken out, understanding the particular narrative or ‘angle’ the article is taking.

Quite often, in fact for some of the best articles and blogs I’ve ever written, that formula has evolved during the actual writing of the piece where I’ve enabled myself to relax and let the story tell itself. The basic idea is there, that gets me started, but it’s that state of relax and deep concentration where there is literally nothing between my thoughts and the document that is truly representative of the best moments in writing.

As a journalist, seasoned blogger, and passionate writer, I’ve also learnt that it’s vital to understand one very real reality.

That reality is simple, the reader (that’s you reading this) will likely decide within seconds whether they’re liking what you’ve written or not. We live in an age where information, news, and the reaction is being delivered more quickly than it ever has before and in a huge variety of ways.

As a writer, your readers have hundreds of different options ready and waiting for their attention, so if you want to be truly good at this thing, you’d better learn that your craft isn’t actually about trying to reach and convince absolutely all of them.

Good writing has the ability to do is engage, inform and challenge. It’s not about re-publishing the same old rubbish message over and over again, it’s about developing a truly detailed account of your thinking and/or the facts and this can only be done with effort and skill.

Call be a bit jaded, but I believe that half the reason why a lot of mainstream media outlets get the flack they do is because their content isn’t crafted as much around quality as it is about the time factor, i.e being the first or the most informed on a story versus how that’s actually written and presented.

But, and it’s a big but, mainstream media is also a business and like a lot of businesses it looks to provide the biggest bang for its buck, often with a diminishing amount of resource.

For example, it’s cheaper to pay a fresh faced journalist fresh out of university to go out and tell the big stories with nothing more than a notepad and laptop than it is to invest the time into really digging into the facts, cultivate good reliable sources, and most importantly, have the freedom to be able to tell good stories.

Many journalists are terrified of screwing up, something that is fuelled by the constant reminder of how lucky they are to call themselves a professional in this business, that they won’t seek greater challenges within their particular beat.

That’s why so many all in media scrums that rugby journalist will be well custom to are often described as ‘theatre’ by some of the veterans in our business, because it’s often not about anything other than being sure to ask a question so there is something to write about – regardless of how bad many of those questions often are because they’re thrown out without any real thought.

Being a blogger for over a decade before entering this business is something I will cherish forever because it gave me time to understand how process truly impacts on the final piece. It’s also given me plenty of room to fail, and yes writers, you will fail numerous times along the way toward a career in writing.

The bad articles are the ones written without thought and are designed in no way other than to join the constant void of information. The good articles are written with thought, and as a writer, my advice would be to ensure that you spend as much time looking and thinking about your craft (and it’s potential impact on the reader) during and before putting pen to paper.

That, in my opinion, is a little bit of what you need to do in order to be a good writer (if one can ever be called such).

Feeling Undervalued As A Journalist?

Do you have a shutdown ritual? Do you even know what a shutdown ritual is? According to a blog on mediacurrent, a shutdown ritual is a set routine of actions that you perform at the end of each workday to finalise your day and signify that your workday is done. Many of us need that full stop to end proceedings, and for many of us, it’s also the first step to beginning the next day.

On my phone I have a routine app that features the core daily tasks I have to ‘tick off’ each day. Many of these tasks are personal, things like taking a shower and setting aside 15-minutes for meditation, while other tasks are designed around giving my brain the information ‘fuel’ I need to keep myself updated with the world around me, like reading the news for 30-minutes and checking Twitter.

But one routine focuses on prep – aptly called the shutdown ritual.

Part of my personal shutdown ritual, and one of the core tasks I try to complete each day, is setting out exactly every work task I need to complete the next day. It’s not just the task I write down on a separate ‘to-do list’ app, it’s the exact requirements of the said task.

For example, I frequently write down “write Chiefs feature in 800 words or less” if I have a story due the next day or “research stats on disability employment” if I am preparing to pitch a project to an outlet. If I need to get guidance from an editor or talk through ideas, I’ll write something like “call newsroom to discuss angle X”.

The shutdown ritual also touches on personal appointments or tasks. Does my partner need something in particular from me on this day? I’ll write down exactly what she needs and the steps I need to take to deliver.

It’s all about the detail and the pre-planning is a crucial part of both executing these tasks. It’s also a core fundamental for my own sanity. Almost always, and trust me it happens a hell of a lot, when I don’t have a productive day (or even a productive week), it’s because I haven’t taken the time the day before to list out the agenda for said day or week.

You might read a task such as “write Chiefs feature in 800 words or less” and think that it’s fairly clear cut. But for me, the 800 bit is crucial because it gives me parameters, I now know the ideal word count so can begin thinking about its scope.

My list will also set out the exact time I will submit the story – usually an hour before deadline if possible.

I believe that the same idea can be applied to just about anything you do, whether written down in an app or not.

Want to know why so many people don’t execute on their work or don’t take that next step toward something bigger? It’s not so much that they fail, it’s the lack of attention to the how. For that, I have to give credit to a former mentor of mine and fellow disability advocate Jade Farrar, during our working relationship I marvelled at just how much time and energy he put into the small things that many of us overlooked.

I also have to credit some of the professional rugby players and coaches I speak to on a weekly basis. Their amount of thought and planning on game plans, physical shape, recovery and much more just makes the mind explode when you hear about how it’s all being put into action. A guy like Anton Lienert-Brown is a fine example of that, a deep thinker about his craft and the impact being a man in the spotlight can have on those around him whilst also knowing how to switch off and get away.

Cool Story Mike, So What’s The Point Exactly?

During these ever-increasing times, particularly in our work, it’s crucial that we allow ourselves to check it all at the door but not forget our value by underselling.

This may mean different things for different people, but for me, recent times have really forced a lot of reflection on the motives and value behind what I do, particularly as a freelance journalist. Just this week I went on Reddit and asked other freelancers about their approach to drawing a line in the sand and saying no when you start thinking your hard work is being taken advantage of.

Just a bit of context. The media business is short on money right now. Newsrooms are downsizing not expanding, journalists who were previously employed are now being asked to work as contractors and pitch stories on an individual basis.

It’s a tough industry at the best of times and, sadly, many of those who only care about the spreadsheets are putting editors in extremely tough positions by forcing them to let some of their very best writers go, or at the very least, take a hefty pay cut.

But for me, I didn’t actually understand how much time, energy and effort I was putting into my work for these different outlets until I did a bit of a google on myself. When you google ‘Michael Pulman Journalist’ it should take you to a site called Muckrack which pulls together all the clips that I’ve written for the various mainstream media outlets in the past year or two.

Turns out, I’ve done a fair bit of work. Then I began to think back to the process of writing those pieces that went on to be picked up by outlets and published in print.

It came down to the work, obviously, but it was also the quality of the process that was put around those particular articles. Few of those articles were rush jobs, looking back at my to-do lists from those particular dates showed me that I had taken the time to perform that shutdown ritual where I had the patience to map out, 1 what the task was, 2 when it was due, and 3 what the parameters for it all were.

Being a freelancer in an ever-competitive media space often makes you feel like you’ve got to be on the button constantly, ready to pitch a story at a moments notice and do it before anyone else, then get it written and out the door within an hour or two so it’s timely.

Some of that might be true, but a lot of it is also complete bullshit. Being timely on a piece doesn’t make it good, keeping up appearances might help forge good relationships, but the real work is often done in isolation where the outside influences don’t help deliver the final product.

You deliver the product, nobody else really holds you accountable if you are a freelancer. If you do deliver and hold yourself accountable to everything that’s involved in doing something of quality, you’ve got to understand that there is some real value in that.

When I posted on Reddit I asked a very simple question to some fellow freelancers.

Would you do all this and not expect to be paid? Would you provide that scoop and a quality, thought-provoking read for little more than thanks and handshake?

Sooner or later, you’ve got to flick that switch and stop beating yourself up over the things you cannot control. Speaking purely from the media landscape for a moment – you’ll likely have a hundred doors closed on you before one eventually opens a bit.

Guess how many times I had to work for free before any doors opened? I estimate that I’ve worked for free for well over three of my six years working in the media industry.

The doors started to open when I focused on the story, not the number of stories. As a freelancer, I’ve so often been guilty of focusing far too much on volume as opposed to value. If you’re motivated by volume and nothing else, you have no room to improve. I want to improve, I want to be the very best I can be at what I do, and yes, I want to feel valued by the outlets I write for.

So if you’re out there and you’re in a similar boat to me, please know you’re not alone. If you know you’re doing all you can then there is your value right there. Please do all you can to ensure your work is valued.

Climbed Over At All Blacks (Diaries Of A Disabled Journalist)

The Diaries of a Disabled Journalist, Edition One.

It’s Friday, June 10th 2016 and I’m about to get climbed over at my first ever All Blacks press conference. 

Eden Park’s glorious grandstands are completely empty. It feels like a ghost town as I roll across the hallowed turf in my wheelchair. We come out of the west side tunnel and negotiate our way to the middle of the field. It’s just me, an NZ Rugby official and a couple of overseas journalists, presumably here covering the Welsh tour.

Wow, I think to myself, I’m actually on the field at Eden Park.

It starts to rain so I retreat under the stands and it’s not until I’m parked that I discover I’m actually in the players’ tunnel. This time tomorrow, All Blacks players, television crews and security will be everywhere and I won’t be allowed anywhere near this close to the action. I decide to make the most of it and take a nervous look around.

Unlike tomorrow, there is nothing here right now, it feels just as lifeless as it did out on the field. A few cables line the green matted floor, to each side of the tunnel there are two long corridors which lead to the respective dressing rooms where the All Blacks and Wales rugby players will preside.

Wales are already here, but only just a couple of their kickers and an assistant coach. I say to hell with the rain and head back down the tunnel and out onto the field. Dan Biggar, the Welsh first five, is taking practice shots at goal so I park next to the sideline and take a few photos and one poorly shot iPhone video of his routine.

Then it’s time for the first interview of the day, with the Welsh assistant coach.

It’s about 11.00 am, I’ve been up since 6.00 am and in work mode since around 9.00 am. The 90-minute drive up the Waikato expressway from Hamilton is spent writing my first story of the day on my portable table, lodged between the front of my wheelchair and locks which hold me in place.

Today’s first story is a preview piece focusing on how Wales will go against the All Blacks. By the time I get to Eden Park, all that needs to be added is quotes from the impending interview, and as expected, the little that the Welsh assistant coach actually says doesn’t derail the tone of the story and force a total rewrite.

From there, the few of us journos who bothered to show up are then directed into an underground holding room back on the west side of the ground. Inside it’s cold, empty and certainly no sign of food or hot drink. This doesn’t go down well considering it’s the middle of winter and very cold.

I take the nearest available desk and begin scrolling Google Images for a decent photo of the Welsh assistant coach we just spoke to.

Unlike my counterparts, I don’t work for a mainstream media organisation so I don’t get the benefit of accessing the library of professional photos that were just taken from the practice session we just saw. I find the most recent and best-looking image I can find, add the quotes into the WordPress article draft and hit “submit for review” where I hope an editor in the US or Europe finds it quickly.

That hope is disappointed, the story doesn’t get published until later that afternoon, well after my mainstream media peers have already had theirs go live. Oh well, I think to myself, their work is probably going to get more views anyway and this is really an opportunity to practice my craft.

It’s now around 12.30 pm and we now have to wait for the big event of the day, the All Blacks captains run where we get to interview the new skipper, Kieran Read.

The term “holding room” to describe where the media contingent was placed is indeed accurate, and after nearly two hours of work and the occasional stop for chatter, we all begin making jokes about being animals locked in an enclosure until feeding time.

The feed we seek, of course, is that big interview with the new All Blacks captain and we all have a list of questions we all desperately hope to fire at him.

Another hour goes by, and finally, we are let out of the enclosure. The All Blacks are on the field, training intensely. Most of us have our eyes locked on that, but a turn to your left and you notice that the stand is scattered with members of the public who’ve been given the opportunity to come along and watch the final practice before the match. This scattering features kids, parents and a whole lot of sponsors. A Japanese group is lucky enough to have even closer seats to the action, they’re down on the field with us and currently huddled around Sam Whitelock as he practices some scrum work.

Julian Savea, the powerful All Black winger who has so often been compared to the likes of Jonah Lomu, runs over to retrieve a ball that lands close to me. Bloody hell, I think to myself, he’s a bloody big unit but his intensity in the face is about as confronting as his physical stature. He doesn’t take his eye off the ball for a single second as his ranging arm comes down and scoops the ball up. I smile and nod at him, but he doesn’t notice. Just looking at those eyes you can tell, even at training, he’s in the zone.

I see little of the training on field because the media contingent, now sizeably bigger than before, has set up shop with their cameras and I don’t have a hope of wedging my wheelchair into the line. Balls are flying everywhere, the kids in the stands are yelling and cameras are flashing. It’s an absolute hive of activity.

“Hey Joe,” I say, “can you please let me know when Kieran is coming over so I can get in position?” I ask quietly to the media manager. He smiles, “sure mate I will let you know”.

Joe, being the man responsible for setting up the media conference and the guy who brings the All Black captain over to us journalists, doesn’t let me know. Out of sheer luck, I spot Kieran walking over and race toward where he’s headed. I park at the front of the media pack, directly behind all the microphones that are already set up.

Kieran walks over, smiles at me and says hello, then the interview begins.

One journalist literally climbs over the side of my wheelchair in an attempt to get closer to Kieran. “Excuse me mate”, he says as he manoeuvres himself over me. He stands directly in front me after that and all chances of getting a decent photo and video are gone.

A second journalist does the exact same thing a minute, and then a third. It’s more than a little belittling, but I’m so caught up in the moment that it didn’t actually register how disrespectful and downright discriminatory that was.

I have it on good authority from NZ Rugby that up until that point they’d never had someone in a wheelchair as part of the media pack before. It is just as much of a learning opportunity for them, and as much as something like that would enrage a lot of disabled people, I take it on the chin and make the best of the interview with Kieran that I can.

In fact, I even manage to ask a question of the man tasked with arguably the toughest job in New Zealand sport. It made the early rise, the ordeal of sitting in the holding room and the frustration of being climbed over, all worth it.

After that, I’m back in the van and we are heading back down the expressway to home. But work is far from over. My laptop is open and I am doing two things at once as we hurtle out of Mt Eden and greater Auckland.

Firstly, I plug in the recorder and begin listening back to what Kieran had to say, typing quotes into a word document. After I’ve picked four quotes, I begin writing the story. At the same time, I’m on Twitter posting photos and quotes from Kieran onto my timeline, looking at what other media outlets are doing just in case I’ve missed any crucial details, and I’m also texting a New Zealand-based editor to see how quickly he can get the story online.

By the time we hit Mercer, a small town south of Auckland, the story is done and ready for editorial.

Two stories, check, but a third is yet to come. I need to turn both these stories, the Welsh angle and the All Blacks angle, into a column that needs to be online tomorrow morning. We get back to Hamilton just before 7.00 pm, I quickly go to the bathroom and then eat, before opening up another word document and typing that crucial third story.

I finish writing at 10.00 pm. Sleep isn’t just easy, it’s automatic.

NZ Herald News Show ‘Focus’ Impresses On Debut

Focus, a new web show created by the New Zealand Herald, made its debut today, and it’s a winner.

The news-industry has been forced to change with the rapid rise of social media and the demands that platforms like Twitter and Facebook demand for instant content.

Not only does the content have to be instant, but it also has to be fast, which makes the job for “traditional” news media more difficult, as the

NZ Herald’s new news show Focus does a good job of providing news updates in a bulletin style that only lasts eight minutes. Continue reading NZ Herald News Show ‘Focus’ Impresses On Debut

AMC ruins otherwise enjoyable beginning to Wintec year

A frustrating and confusing AMC class was the only complaint to take away from the first quarter of the Wintec year for media students.

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The first half of Wintec’s first semester in 2015 was a struggle from the outset.

Classes like Writing for the Media and Media Video/Photography were a fresh new change, but the other two papers really felt like a repeat.

In all honesty I don’t think any of the students were convinced on AMC (Audience Message Context) and the first assignment for that class was the most frustrating work the degree has offered thus far.

The tutors themselves said that the class was a rehashed take on an old module, and at the best of times they looked just as in the dark as us students were.

As students, we want classes that are going to let us practice and do practical work.

While the first assignment of AMC allowed this, the 1000-word genre analysis task seemed like a big repeat and gigantic waste of all our time.

The experimentation phase of the assignment is good for music and graphic students, but for the journalism majors who were presenting various types of news stories for the assignment hand in, it felt a bit too much of repeating things we had already done.

At least in my case it felt like that – I can’t speak for any other student.

It felt like Writing for the Media and Media Video/Photography were the only two classes which actually had us doing practical work, with much practice and heaps of feedback, and weekly sessions where we were engaged and knew what we had to be doing and what we needed to work on.

Media Theory is a class which had much merit and I expect to learn much from Wednesday mornings.

So in conclusion, a frustrating beginning to the second year of our degree but some real key skills have been taught along the way as well.

Hamilton Press: Just about the people

The Hamilton Press and the vision of its editor Steve Edwards is simple, the paper must be community orientated.

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Most weekly newspapers like the Hamilton Press have the same motto.

It is news about the people, and views about the stories that matter to a community, regardless of how big or small.

Much has been made about the future of newspapers in the modern era, where news is being delivered to the consumer in so many new, instantly available, and interactive ways. News is breaking all the time.

The key word is instant.

For many community papers, there just isn’t room for those hard hitting breaking news stories that you read online or see on Twitter.

Because of its weekly turnaround, the Hamilton Press focuses on the stories that serve the city of Hamilton.

Thanks to the Waikato Regional Newspaper network, rural news from surrounding areas to Hamilton are covered in other newspapers, but the Hamilton Press works with each of its partner papers to put together the best stories that focus on people.

Daily editions that FairFax Media and the APN produce in the form of the Waikato Times and the NZ Herald are much different.

Weekly papers like the Hamilton Press are not going to get those big exclusive stories.

This is because of time sensitivity.

The Hamilton Press doesn’t exactly compete against other media either, it just tells a few of the community stories that are around Hamilton city each week.

Due to the size of the population, and the various amounts of stories that come from the community, Hamilton Press doesn’t exactly step on the toes of its rival paper the Hamilton News (produced by the APN) either.

The Hamilton Press operates using just one designated journalist.

According to the editor of the Hamilton Press Steve Edwards, their one journalist does the bulk of the writing that the newspaper produces each week.

Community newspapers like the Hamilton Press are also proving to be valuable to students, and Edwards believes that community papers like his own provide the best grounding because journalists cover everything and don’t just remain fixed on one area of news.

If utilised, Edwards believes students can get a lot out of the on-the-job style of learning that being a journalist for community newspapers can provide.

“Everyone can write, but to write for a paper on deadline and for what the paper wants, that’s the art. The best way of doing that is by doing that.”

Like a lot of people in the industry, Edwards believes that being pro active is the key to being a good journalist, even during the stages of training in tertiary education.

“I tell the people at Wintec all the time, write stuff for us as well as in class, the classroom is different. Go out and write a story, take a photo and send it in. If it gets rejected it gets rejected. It is not training, an exam exercise or a practice, what you do is you’re a journalist.”

Edwards believes the best students are the ones who don’t wait for an internship, but are the ones who show pro-activeness and take a chance by contacting newspapers and offering their work.

The Hamilton Press is produced weekly on a Wednesday, and delivered to mailboxes around the city for free.

THE SPORTS LINE: All you need to know

Joining FreeFM has been lingering in my mind for months now, and from late January I will officially be on air with a talkback show called The Sports Line.

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The Sports Line will be a weekly talkback sports show that discusses a few of the bigger sports stories of the week in one segment, goes full in depth behind the scenes of Waikato sports clubs such as the Chiefs and Northern Knights in the other, and branches into a topic of the week like segment at the end of each show.

Occasionally there will be interviews with Chiefs and Knights players, coaches and members of management.

There will also be periodical discussions with mainstream sports journalists to get their take on the issues discussed in the show.

Access radio means just that, it is accessible and anyone can join FreeFM so while this opportunity is going to be a really cool experience, I go into it knowing full well that I am in no way a voice for radio, but it is just another string to add to the bow of things I am doing at the moment and I think it will go in well with my experiences with the Chiefs in Super Rugby this year.

But why FreeFM?

It all started with a brief conversation between Devon Mace and myself, I really wanted to get into access radio with him.

Devon is one of the most talented writers I’ve ever met, his knowledge of cricket in particular is amazing.

But for whatever reason, probably because we are both super busy when not in classes together off writing our own bits and bobs on sport for our own websites, Devon and I just never made it to the FreeFM studios for that meeting with the programme director.

I hadn’t even heard of FreeFM until seeing it during a presentation during one of our classes at Wintec last year.

Since meeting with FreeFM in late November I have had 3 sessions in the studio getting to grips with everything and after a brief meeting with the programme director this morning, I will officially go on air hosting The Sports Line from late January.

The show will be run on a weekly basis but it will not be aired live.

Not airing the show live is for a few reasons.

One, because of the complex scheduling in place at FreeFM. As an access radio station (where so many people have shows that vary so much in nature and subject) trying to find a time slot that would suit not only myself, but also FreeFM too, and placing it around and close by to the weekend where so much major sports events occur is a big challenge.

That is one reason.

Another reason is because I need more experience and time in the studio hosting a radio show before I would be comfortable live on the air.

Even once the show goes to air and everything I record is radio programme, I am still learning on the job, so for this reason pre recording the show to be placed on the air later is the best way forward at this moment in time.

The Sports Line will air early in the week, and will be pre recorded and put to air later that same day.

In addition to be able to listen to The Sports Line on 89.0FM once it goes to air, the show will also be available to download as a podcast, stream online via FreeFM’s official website, or downloaded through iTunes.

Each episode will also be posted on the official Access Radio Database, and also posted on all my own social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

So until late January, if you have any ideas or mentions for the show, get in contact with me on Twitter @realmikepulman.

Wintec vs Waikato: Preparing Myself For Study

I am fully prepared to admit that I am not smartest guy on the planet, but so far the process of weighing up wether to go to Waikato University or Wintec has been a pretty enjoyable one, all be it hugely crucial in getting right which is still continuing to dominate much of the conversation as myself and “the team” try to decide what the best option is for me and more importantly my health in the long term.

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So I just wanted to give you guys and update on where we are at.

The plan is to study Journalism. Obviously right.

I can either study what is called a Bachelor Of Media Arts majoring in Communication (at Wintec) or a Bachelor Of Arts majoring in Writing Studies (at University). There is also a little thought of doing Social Work at some point, but for now it is the Bachelor degree which I am aiming for.

With me so far? Cool beans.

Primarily, the two degrees are much the same, but right now it is Wintec which is pulling me in slightly more than University because from what I believe and have been told, University is more theory based where as Wintec is a little more practical. In easier terms, Wintec will be slightly more hands on sit down at the computer and work sort of style, where as with University there are lectures and the likes, then some computer or lab work afterwards.

That’s not to say Wintec doesn’t have lectures also, because there are a few of those there as well.

With both, there will be a lot of work and a lot of study both at campus and at home. I will be busy, busier than I have ever been.

Full time study vs Part time study is also a major factor in this whole decision during the talks we are having right now. In an ideal world I would like to study full time, but with a degree such as the one I am going to be doing, the schedule is very demanding, however Wintec’s timetable is a little easier to manage full time verses the one University has to offer.

Tegan made a great point the other day on Facebook and I really should have worded my status a little better.

Obviously my energy levels are not that of most other people my age, and that has to be taken into account with the decisions I will need to make over the next few weeks. University is closer to home than Wintec, but the “hands on” approach of Wintec suits me a little better than the more “sit in a lecture but also do some hands on” approach that University has offered me. Clearly I am not trying to make an excuse for myself because both Wintec and University have both said that I have the brain power, enthusiasm, and energy to fly through the 3-year degree and pass with terrific marks, both saying I have the talent and will to land a top job in Journalism in the near future post degree, but a full time schedule over the course of 3 years would have an effect on my health and disability long term, there is simply no denying that.

At Wintec, studying the Bachelor Of Media Arts (Communication) a full time schedule looks like this:

Monday: 8am – 12pm 

Tuesday: 8.30am – 12pm 

Wednesday: 9am – 1pm 

Thursday: DAY OFF

Friday: 12pm – 5pm

University were not so clear in their timetable and didn’t offer concrete set times for me, where as Wintec did and also offered alternatives to the schedule long term for myself depending on the fluctuations of my health, which will undoubtably have their own ups and downs.

University offers much of what Wintec does, in my mind the degrees are a little better there, as are the social opportunities, but it is just a bit of a worry with the number of lectures because if I wake up and feel really sick one morning, which honestly happens a lot, and I have a lecture to go to, the fatigue and sickness, tire of muscles, and pain in the limbs I suffer will make it difficult to be 100% attentive throughout what would be a crucial lecture. Even with the support of a PA. Where as at Wintec, I may have more chance of working through that lack of comfort if I am at the computer working that way, which by the sounds of it at this stage Wintec offers more of than Uni does.

It is all such a mind field. But an exciting one.

Sure, doing 4 hours in the morning three days a week and 5 hours in the afternoon on a Friday is more than doable, that is what the full time schedule will look like for me if I go to Wintec, but that is not counting homework and other things.

I think I could manage the full time schedule, but for three years on the trot?

I mean, I don’t know where I am going to be healthwise in six months let alone three years, but I don’t want to let that hold me back either because if I get sick, I get sick. If I die at 25 because my health fails quickly while still working on my degree, then so be it. At least I had a go at it. That really is the mindset now, I am disabled but I don’t think I am really, so I try not to let it effect the will to try and achieve my goals, while at the same time remaining practical in how I live my life day to day. That is really how I feel, I don’t want to let my disability effect my dreams, and I certainly don’t want to go down the path of studying part time without trying full time first, just because I am worried my health my drop earlier rather than later.

I guess I am reserved to the fact that sometime in the next 10 years my health will take a serious hit. That was a big reason why I moved here in the first place, I want to experience while I can, and that includes studying.

Basically, if I study full time and hopefully do well, I will be extremely busy most of the time, but I can have the degree in 3 years. If I study part time it will be easier on my body, my health, and the fatigue, but it will take 6 years.

To have had both the University and Wintec tell me that I have the smarts to do very well in a degree as high as this is a wonderful boost for my confidence, but at this stage I am leaning towards Wintec over University, which is certainly a surprise because University was really the goal when I knew I was moving to Hamilton, so in many respects it has done a bit of a 180.

In terms of on site support, I am golden. I will have a full time PA (personal assistant) with me throughout my studies, at all times on campus to do everything from help me with note taking, to opening doors or getting me a coffee.

It’s actually looking like a pretty sweet deal. I am very lucky.

So the workload may be big, especially if I go full time over part time. I really am pushing for the full time schedule, but I will have to sit down with Mum in particular and see what she thinks. I will certainly do what she feels is the right way to go for my health, because she is the expert on what I am capable of, I have a bit of a habbit of overworking my body at times with my enthusiasm and drive for life.

At the end of the day, my health is important and I don’t want to burn out in six months. I can start at full time and then cut back to part time if the schedule is taking a toll on my general health, but I really don’t want to set the bar low from the outset.

More to come on this.

Regards,

Mike