Over the last week I’ve had a chance to consistently contribute to This Morning without producing any individual packages. As I wrote about in my last blog entry, I have been given the traditional — in the context of This Morning — intern duties of updating the show’s Twitter feed as well as deciding which stories will be used in the international headlines segment.
Though I initially regarded these as simply easy tasks dumped off to an intern, my producer Christina recently engendered a change of heart about this.
The front of tbs Radio's current building, and another example of why I won't be a photographer. Photo by Brendan Day
I had valued my three-minute package about the R16 break-dancing tournament higher than the international headlines for two main reasons: It was entirely my own work, and the amount of time put into preparing the package was substantially greater than selecting and preparing headlines. While this may be valid from a self-interest point of view, it’s less applicable when considering the whole show as a sum of its parts. The international headlines segment goes for three minutes as well, so in blunt terms, it’s equally as important as my break-dancing package. While the desired aim of news and current affairs radio is to inform and educate its audience, a non-negotiable is that it must go for its allotted time. With a daily show that runs for two hours, it’s no good to have twenty minutes of incredible content and nothing else prepared. The emphasis is on quality, but a specific quantity must be met.
With this in mind, Christina confirmed that organising a three-minute segment is equally important — regardless of its composition — in reaching the two hours of content that This Morning must create each day. It helped me appreciate the responsibilities that I’ve been given. In addition to the social media and international headlines, I have also written the introductions and questions for three interviews now, segments that regularly run for 10–15 minutes. It’s a great sign of faith in my capabilities that Christina entrusts me with these interviews, and I’ve continued to learn from the mistakes of my first interview preparation. The first one was with a doctor of medical radiation who has recently written a book that highlights the supposed risks of overexposure to radiation while flying. Though he is undoubtedly an intelligent man, I discovered in researching for the interview that his views were in the minority and disputed by many other scientists as excessive and unrealistic. Since we had booked him on the show as an expert, it was important to respect his opinions while not spreading needlessly alarmist conjecture. My fears went mostly unfounded, though, as the doctor was more rational in his views than I would have expected — he wanted to raise awareness of the increased radiation levels in planes, but didn’t explicitly state that these increased levels were dangerous. You can listen to the interview here.
The second interview was a bit difficult as well, as it involved interviewing a foreign professor about a local event he was unfamiliar with. The under-construction Lotte World Tower, an oft-lambasted development with frequent safety controversies, was recently found to be the cause of nearby sinkholes and potentially putting the foundation of the whole building in jeopardy. Our interview subject was from Florida, America’s unofficial sinkhole capital, and was an expert in sinkholes but a novice in regards to Korea. It necessitated a lot of questioning about sinkholes in general, then, and relating it to the Lotte World Tower incident was entirely Alex’s duty. As expected, he performed admirably, and the result can be heard here.
On Wednesday night the whole crew from This Morning went out to a farewell dinner for Simon Love, the RMIT intern who has been with the show for the past five weeks. I used it as an opportunity to exercise some of the Korean customs I have learned — pouring drinks with two hands, looking away from the table when you imbibe, and other little signs that help to indicate respect for your superiors. Yet as I tried it I was immediately chastised by Christina in a playful manner, claiming that type of behaviour is reserved for 50-year-old businessmen.
"Kimchi. Noodles. Words." Photo by Brendan Day
On the cultural side of things, I spent Saturday night camping with Nick as he had to write a piece about the experience for The Korea Herald. Unlike in Australia, where camping often involves a breakaway from the confines of civilisation, this activity took place adjacent to a busy highway, there were phone charging stations, and many patrons were spotted with laptops in tow. Myself and Nick had a great deal of trouble securing a barbecue — the man in charge of the hiring process spoke nowt English, the help desk was entirely in Korean, and we were left stranded until a kind Korean gentleman stopped and guided us through the process. After a couple of authentically Australian sausages ‘sangas’ and some kimchi on the side, we’d had our most satisfying meal to date and the DIY aspect of camping, despite some initial speed bumps, had regained primacy even in the heart of Seoul.
It was good to see that former interns from the University of Sydney are still in contact with tbs. In a weekly segment called “Globetrotting”, Robert North reported on the ongoing Sri Lankan asylum-seeker controversy on Friday’s show, and the previous week featured a piece from Sarah Conte. I’ve pitched a few more package ideas to Christina and received the go-ahead signal, so hopefully I too will contribute to tbs for longer than the remaining two weeks of my internship.