Jeremy Olds from Auckland is using his 2016 Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Award to complete a Master of Arts in Journalism specialising in arts and culture at Columbia University in New York. Jeremy graduated with a BCS (Hons) from AUT University in 2012.
Was there ever a more important time in history to consider the role of the journalist?
After the events of late 2016 in the United States, some hard questions were being asked in the classrooms at Columbia Journalism School. Brain teasers like: Can a fractured news environment be mended? Can our work still make a difference? Does the truth even matter?
The discussions have been nuanced, emotional, searching. It has made me realise I am here at a time of historic significance, and with that comes opportunities for learning that can never be replicated.
I am fast approaching the half-way point of my masters study, but already I sense a shift in my journalistic practice. Studying under some of the world’s most prominent reporters has made me a more nimble thinker, a more critical reader, a more knowledgable writer. Being in New York enhances everything I learn in the classroom. One Tuesday morning in class, we analysed Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus. Less than a month later, I was face-to-face with Spiegelman, who was speaking at a book store near my apartment.
The experience has its challenges. The academic discourse is passionate and unforgiving of trepidation. The workload is staggering. My walls are papered with To Do lists and deadline reminders. My desk is more books than wood. But the pressure is like a strong coffee: It is heart-racing, energising fuel, helping me function in a way I previously could not.
That said, I could really use a good coffee. The stuff here is garbage water.