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Plans for St James Theatre not set in stone

Roof of St James Theatre – Photograph by Tinaz Karbhari

By Georgie Foot

St James Theatre, in the heart of Auckland’s city, is in the process of being mothballed. However, plans to restore the theatre are on the horizon.

Steve Bielby, principal trustee for the Auckland Notable Properties Trust has high hopes that the theatre will be restored in the near future.

“We are working on getting a consent for restoration,” says Bielby, “however cannot do that until we have all the funding.”

The theatre was forced to close in 2007, when a damaging fire in adjacent building caused authority to question the safety of the buildings construction.

The cost to restore the theatre is estimated at $175million, which, as this point, is not a feasible option says Bielby.

Instead he plans to mothball the theatre until funding become available.

There is a $60million difference between mothballing and restoration. So for Bielby, this seems like the most probable way forward.

For the past 2 years, Steve Bielby has worked for the Auckland Notable Properties Trust, whose target is to restore historical buildings around Auckland.

On August 28, 2015, a 50-person survey was conducted on social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, to examine if the public supported restoration of the theatre.

Being such a historically famous building in Auckland, it seems many people are intrigued by St James’s story, are following its journey closely and are in support of its progression.

Thirty-six out 45 responses were in favour of the restoration.

Lucy Morton, one of the 50 people randomly surveyed, feels very strongly about the reopening of St James Theatre, saying that, “ theatre is an important part of Auckland’s arts and restoration of the theatre will greatly benefit this art form.”

Another response from the survey was from Claire Mourits. Although a strong advocate for theatre, she doesn’t support the plans to restore St James Theatre.

Mourits believes that, “ the money could go towards something far more worthwhile,” and says Auckland already has plenty of spaces for theatre, “so this restoration will achieve nothing.”

Yet, Bielby justifies this project by saying that it speaks for itself. “Every show we’ve done has sold out. There hasn’t been a show at St James Theatre, that hasn’t been a full house,” says Bielby.

On August 27, 2015 for example, St James Theatre was host to Stolen Girlfriends Fashion Show. The Spanish renaissance-style foyer of St James Theatre was once again filled with vibrancy and life as Stolen Girlfriend models used the aged mezzanine floors of the theatre as their catwalk.

Built in 1928, the theatre has been the home to many famous and world-class performances including the Royal Variety Performance for Queen Elizabeth II in 1981.

Now construction workers, trucks and life can be seen emerging from the doors of the theatre, as the mothballing process is underway.

The new theatre will include significant upgrades that are up to the modern standards that productions and shows require. Yet there will always be an element of the buildings history maintained through the interior décor according to Bielby.

Contacts:

Steve Bielby

021527526

Final Touches

IMG_3032

In two days time my final piece is due. All this work, this research, reading, interviewing, writing and crafting leads to this final piece of work.

So I’ve been editing. Re-reading. And then editing again.

I’ve found the readings this semester so beneficial. Each one has a new structure, idea, and system of journalism that is adding to this bank of information that I never before understood.

Journalism has been so different to what I expected, although I’m not entirely sure what I expected. I think my biggest learning curve has been adapting to the style of Journalistic writing. Staying away from those delicious adjectives and sticking to the facts and figures that makes up a news piece.

I now look at other news articles far more critically and analytically. Studying the structure, the tone and the technique.

In terms of my story… I would like to think its come a long way. I’ve focused on the angle much more and the style of the piece. Positioning it more as a news story rather than a creative writing piece. But I suppose, this blog has proven that it has become so much more than ‘a story.’ Through the process of finding, writing and creating this story, I have learnt so much. Especially broadening my ideas about what it truly means to be a Journalist.

So until next time.

Georgie F

Journalism 101

In a reading from, The handbook of journalism studies (Wahl-Jorgensen & Hanitzsch, 2009), the idea of gatekeeping was touched on. By definition it is, “ the process of selecting, writing, editing, positioning, scheduling, repeating and otherwise massaging information to become news (Wahl-Jorgensen & Hanitzsch, 2009)”.

The reading looked at the development of gatekeeping over history and how much it’s changed. An interesting point that it brought up was to do with the competitive nature of Journalists and how they use this competition to judge their own performance. For instance, it is believed that New York Times acts as a moderator for other journalists. As in, they hold the authority and act as a trendsetter for other Journalists. This means that the journalists can compare their work to NYT and follow in its lead. This chapter expressed that if this ‘moderator’ did not already exist, “it would be invented (Wahl-Jorgensen & Hanitzsch, 2009)”.

In relation to my story, I have realised that I can be my own gatekeeper. From the responses on my social media questions I don’t necessarily see a huge market for my story with the angle I’m taking now. Therefore I need to position this story from a slightly different angle, one that will be more appealing to the audience and one that demands the title ‘newsworthiness’’.

So until next time.

Georgie F

References:

Wahl-Jorgensen, K., & Hanitzsch, T. (2009). The handbook of journalism studies (pp. 73-87). New York: Routledge.

Surveying on Social Media

This week I’ve turned to Social Media for help. I put forward a survey on Facebook, wanting to know how the reopening of St James Theatre would affect the public. Very interesting to see how people responded, although a few more comments would be helpful!

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.58.23 pm

https://www.facebook.com/groups/790843000998675/

I also tweeted on Twitter this week, asking Social Media users their opinion about the thought of St James Theatre restoration. I thought by asking a similar question but on a different Social Media Site, I might get a different range of answers from a different audience.

However, so far, answers have been pretty similar to what I got on Facebook. But there’s still time, and I’m interested to see what the answers will be.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.33.16 pm

https://twitter.com/georgiefoot19

Additionally I posted a photo on Instagram with a similar question. My responses so far…Untitled

So until next time.

Georgie F

Journalism is _ _ _ dead

This week I have been reading.

Reading, reading, and more reading.

Our essay is due at the end of the week and I busy trying to understand as much as I can about how technology contributes to journalism. Amongst my reading, I came across a really interesting article titled, ‘Journalism is not dead, but Newspapers are dying.’ Something I took from it was that, Journalism will never die. It will transform, adjust and develop but never die. Newspapers are not as commonly used anymore yet this should not be mistaken for the death of journalism. With the development of technology, journalism has been forced to adapt and as a result it has become much more digitalised.

The article expanded on other aspects and it’s definitely worth the read. So here is the link for any of you keen beans!

http://www.briansolis.com/2007/03/journalism-is-not-dead-but-newspapers/

Writing this essay actually helped me with my story too. It made me realise that I could be utilizing the Internet and technology so much more. Actually not even ‘could be’, but I SHOULD be! All this reading and research into technologies contribution has showed me that, as journalists, we need to using Social Media and other sites, if we want to stay relevant and for our stories to be heard.

So until next time.

Georgie F

The Power of an Introduction

Looking back on my draft story and from the G. Hannis (2014) reading, I can see how the intro can make or break your entire piece. In class we’ve leant about the more mainstream Introductions.

  • 20 word limit
  • Includes the 5W’s and an H
  • Angle

While I attempted to achieve this in my last draft, I can see my flaws and what I need to improve on.

intro blog

In class we also learnt about other types of introductions that are less common, but still relevant. One that is used generally for profile stories is called a ‘Delayed Intro.’ Basically this is a way of building suspense and referring to news in a more indirect form (Hannis, 2014).

I quite liked this type of Introduction and would be interested in using it in the future. However, not sure it’s appropriate my story. With a word limit of 600 words, its important to use my introduction efficiently, rather than waste words with a Drop down introduction.

So until next time.

Georgie F

References:

Hannis, G. (2014). Intro: a beginner’s guide to journalism in 21st-century Aotearoa/New Zealand (pp. 199-217). Wellington: New Zealand Journalists Training Organisation.

Tackling Technique

The more I read about Journalism and ‘how to be a good journalistic writer’, the more overwhelmed I feel. There is an abundance of information out there and its just about sifting through and analysing whats useful and whats not.

My one downfall when it comes to writing, is my lack of sentence starters. I know it sounds like a bizarre problem to face, but I always seem to be searching for new and creative ways to introduce my next ideas, in desperate hope of not sounding repetitive.

Over the last two weeks I have consumed my every sparing moment with reading cover-to-cover of British magazine, The Week. Whenever I find a unique phrase that could be coined I scribble it down in my notebook. That way, when it comes to my next version of my Journalism story, I will hopefully have a vast array of phrases to draw from.

Between now and when our next story is due, I definitely have some work to do. I think one aspect I can definitely improve on, is the idea of the Inverted Triangle, a concept we learnt about over the last week. That structure, which creates a easy-to-read and concise story is something I need to adapt (Hannis, 2014). Its broken up into three sections:

  1. Intro – key sentence to show angle of story
  2. Bridge – Transition sentence which leads us into the rest of the article
  3. Body – provides more information with quotes and facts
(Hannis, 2014)
(Hannis, 2014)

So this weeks goal is to read. Read as much as I can about Journalistic structures and the formation of concise stories. Wish me luck!

Georgie Foot

References:

Hannis, G. (2014). Intro: a beginner’s guide to journalism in 21st-century Aotearoa/New Zealand (pp. 199-217). Wellington: New Zealand Journalists Training Organisation.

# Draft: Witnessing the restoration of St James Theatre

IMG_2837In the heart of Auckland’s City lies a building whose exterior offers very little in the way of character. With it’s grey stain-washed walls, faded red window sills and cracked window panes, one could almost say its going for that post-apocalyptic, rustic look.

However, it is within this construction that the remains of historic building, St James Theatre, exist.

Built in 1928, St James Theatre has been the home to many famous and world-class performances including the Royal Variety Performance for Queen Elizabeth II in 1981.

In 2007 the theatre was forced to close after a damaging fire in adjacent building caused authority to question the safety of the St James Theatre construction.

For the next seven years the theatre went unstirred and untouched. Just a grey and lifeless skeleton, whose insides decomposed slowly over time.

Yet in 2014 the St James Theatre was purchased by Relianz Holdings, who planned to restore the theatre to its original state, in the hope of completing this process by 2018.

Since then the future goals for the building have changed as the cost to restore St James Theatre is around $175million, which is not a feasible option. Instead Steven Bielby, Principal Trustee for the Auckland Notable Properties Trust, says they have consent for mothballing.

“We are working on getting a consent for restoration, however cannot do that until we have all the funding,” says Bielby. Yet there is an approximate $60million difference in costs, so until their funding can cover the cost, restoration is unlikely.

Some could question the point of putting so much money into restoring St James Theatre, when Auckland already has other performance platforms, such as Q Theatre and the Civic.

However Bielby justifies this project by saying that it speaks for itself. “Every show we’ve done has sold out, there hasn’t been a show that hasn’t been a full house,” says Bielby.

In fact, just last night St James Theatre was the host to Stolen Girlfriends Fashion Show. The Spanish renaissance-style foyer of St James Theatre was once again filled with vibrancy and life as Stolen Girlfriend models used the aged mezzanine floors of the theatre as their catwalk.

Being such a historically famous building in Auckland, many people are intrigued by St James’s story and are following its journey closely.

Results from a recent survey, conducted to gage how the public felt about the restoration of St James Theatre, indicated that this project is strongly supported within Auckland. 36 out 45 responses were in favor of the restoration, as ‘while they are not directly affected by it, it will be so beneficial for Auckland’s culture.’

The interior of St James Theatre is a polar opposite to its derelict exterior, which in fact, is reflective of the minimalistic architecture of that era.

The new theatre will include significant upgrades that are up to the modern standards that productions and shows require. Yet there will always be an element of the buildings history maintained through the interior décor.

IMG_2942IMG_2947

With its gold spiraling staircase, intricate roof details, antique lamps and grand gold-framed mirrors, you are instantaneously transformed to another world as you enter into the theatre.

But for now we can only sit and watch as St James Theatre is reassembled piece by piece, which in some ways is a beautiful sight to witness.

By Georgie Foot

Source  |  Steve Bielby  |  021527526

Piecing together the Journo’ Jigsaw

puzzle

One week till this story is due. 7 days till this jigsaw is no longer just segments of a larger picture. 168 hours to piece the puzzle together.

I’ve learnt a huge amount over the last week, both from our Journalism tutorial but also from actually being out there interviewing, talking to people and putting myself in the shoes of a journalist. And while I’ve been studying my puzzle, I’ve discovered parts that I’m still desperately trying to comprehend.

  1. I’ve discovered that the art of journalistc writing is a lot less exciting than I imagined. Emotive words, creative imagery and repetitive use of alliteration are not appreciated. Instead short, succinctly-structured sentences are highly recommended. Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe this type of writing requires more skill. So for me, while its not the style I’m used to, it is definitely something I want to learn how to improve on.
  2. After a fascinating interview with those directly related to St James Theatre, I began sorting my puzzle pieces. However ironically, it’s been these insightful interviews that have sparked me to question whether this story is in fact the right one to tell. I suppose my concerns are that all the truly ‘nitty gritty’ pieces occurred in the past…and this story is meant to be from our present day. Yet maybe I could use the history as the foundation for my story? I’ve been going back and forth all week between the pros and cons about changing stories but I think I’ve finally made up my mind to continue with my original idea. If I was to change now, it would mean finding another story, more background research and more time…which, in all honesty, I just don’t have.

In the hope of crafting a story that follows the true journalistic qualities I have decided that the most effective way is to ‘method act.’ This week I shall play an experienced journalist, who understands the torturously methodical steps needed in order to meet their deadline, with a  succinct, stirring, substantial and strong story. So I will sit in my usual window seat that overlooks the smoggy city, papers strewn across my desk and a strong coffee in hand and jot down any ideas that come to mind. How could a true journalistic piece just not start flowing from my pen? My puzzle will finally be completed!

So until next time.

Georgie Foot

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