Political Journalist, Newshub
Classics & Spanish, 2013
TV Reporter, Story Hunter.
Isobel Ewing loves the diversity, adventure and storytelling that come with her role as one of Newshub’s regular reporters. Her journalism career has seen her travelling around the world, including trips to Laos and Micronesia as part of the former Prime Minister’s delegation. Isobel is passionate about telling stories that matter. “You get into journalism because you want to make a difference. Being a reporter enables me to inform and educate people, as well as tell their stories, and I see that as a real privilege.”
So you’re a TV reporter, how exciting! What do you love most about your job?
I've always had a passion for storytelling. I love a good yarn! I also love the diversity in journalism. You get to meet different people every day. It's a privilege being able to hear their stories and sample their jobs. There’s a lot of freedom and unexpectedness in my job, which suits me perfectly.
Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist?
Not at all. I actually started out studying law with the idea of becoming a diplomat! I think journalism was always there for me, but it took a while to find the path.
How did your own story unfold?
After two years of law at UC I switched to an arts degree. After graduating, I went home to Hamilton where I worked for rural retailer RD1 for a year. I eventually enrolled in a postgrad journalism diploma. I had written for Canta magazine and community newspapers, and I was lucky enough to get on the Fairfax internship scheme. That’s how I got my first job at the Taranaki Daily News in New Plymouth. Then in 2015, I got my job at 3News, now Newshub. So it was quite a winding path!
Has your meandering still contributed to your journalistic career?
I think so. That's the great thing about journalism. Everyone has such a diverse background. There are people from science, psychology, sport… you can do anything and go onto journalism. All of your life experiences add to your ability to relate to a range of people. Being curious and dabbling in different areas has definitely added to what I do today.
Tell us about some of the travels you’ve been on as a reporter.
My first big trip was to South India. I got a grant from the Asia New Zealand Foundation to work at the Deccan Herald in Bangalore. It was the first time I’d travelled to a place like that. India is a crazy but beautiful place. I had expected to be doing heavy-hitting stories on corruption and politics, but they’d send me along to things like dog shows. I loved the cultural experience, trying to navigate the language and catching rickshaws out to interviews. It was incredible.
Sounds exciting, where else have you been?
In my role at Newshub I’ve travelled with the Prime Minister’s delegation. In 2016 I covered the East Asia Summit in Laos. It was amazing being in the presence of world leaders like Putin and Obama, and seeing John Key interact with them. I also went to the Pacific Islands Forum in Micronesia where I discovered a story on illegal fishing in the Pacific. I’ve also reported from the subantarctic Auckland Islands, and was part of a team that climbed Mt Scott in Antarctica as part of an expedition with the Antarctic Heritage Trust.
How has your time at UC influenced your work today?
A lot of people underestimate the value of a BA. While my essays for Classics differ from the punchy, short news stories I do now, the richness of knowledge and analytical thinking skills I gained definitely transfer over. I loved my time at Canterbury. It was highly social and I made some amazing friends. When you have a career in journalism, having contacts across a whole range of people is really important. There are academic benefits of university, but the people you meet are just as important.
What advice would you pass on from your personal uni experience?
Don't be disheartened if your path is not absolutely clear. I often felt quite lost at Uni and wondered if I was on the right track. But now I have a career that I'm really proud of and I’ve done some amazing things. My advice would be to look at your university experience holistically rather than purely academically. Try to soak up every aspect of it and follow what you love. Back yourself. Eventually you'll find the right path and it’s such an amazing feeling when you do.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
You don't get into journalism for the money. You get into it because you want to make a difference. I have a real interest in environmental issues and would like to focus on that. Traditionally, environmental stories haven't been as eye-catching as other kinds of new stories, but people are becoming much more interested in what's happening to the planet. I’m passionate about trying to bridge the divide between environmental science and how it affects people's lives. Journalism enables me to inform and educate people, as well as tell their stories, and I see that as a real privilege.