Class clown turns around

December 15, 2016

Class clown turns around

Sam Hewat has discovered his writing style through his learning at AUT. Photo: Supplied

When Sam Hewat applied for AUT’s Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies, he didn’t know what he was getting into.

He did, however, come armed with ample experience, plus plenty of encouragement too. Sam had spent a year at a US high school on a football exchange where he wrote for its school newspaper – the oldest in the world. And there were the exhortations from AUT Communications alumnus and friend Hugh Collins, who is now a Fairfax reporter.

Now Sam is following in Hugh’s footsteps once more; he too has recently taken up a reporting post at Fairfax. It’s the next stage in his budding career that has already covered a number of bases, including working on the sports desk at NZME while doing his diploma.

It wasn’t always like that. Back in his early days at Hamilton’s St Paul’s Collegiate, Sam was, by his own description, a bit of a class clown. He was “terrible” at English, he played rugby and he had no interest in music. But along came Mr Michael Groom: Sam’s Year 10 English teacher and football coach.

By the time Sam finished his secondary studies English was his best subject, he’d swapped codes to football, and music and drama were playing a big part in his life. He graduated Head Boy. “If it wasn’t for Mr Groom, I wouldn’t be a journalist and I’d be playing rugby,” Sam says.

He says he’s always been “cheeky”. Perhaps that translates to inquisitiveness – a vital requirement for a writer. Sam’s good at talking too – another handy weapon. He knew before he left school that he wanted to be a journalist – but he got himself a BA in politics and history at Auckland University first. That was after his year at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he was able to indulge both his writing and football interests.

When he started his AUT studies, Sam had determined to be a television reporter. But his outlook has since changed: he now sees himself as a member of the new model of journalists who can turn their hand to a variety of skills, including print, online and radio reporting. He has also demonstrated a propensity for video reporting. “I’ve learnt so much about my writing style from the AUT course,” he says. “I would not be half as good as I am now if I had not done the course.”

How does he know? “I looked at some of the work I did on my own website before I started the course. And I cast a very critical eye over it. Everything I’m doing now has come from my AUT learning.”

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