Telum Talks To: Christina Persico from RNZ Pacific
Interview

Telum Talks To: Christina Persico from RNZ Pacific

By Cindy Paskalina Kweesar

Telum Media spoke to Christina Persico about her daily routine as a Bulletin Editor at RNZ Pacific and what she finds most challenging about her role. 

What drew you to a career in journalism?
I was 14 when I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I'd just read a book about using your gifts for your purpose, and I loved all things writing and English. My dream was to be a novelist, but I figured I'd have to pay the bills until I wrote my bestseller! 

I studied at Wintec via distance and worked as well, and my first experience of a real newsroom was an internship at the Nelson Mail. I learned so much in those few weeks under the guidance of Nelson stalwarts, Victoria Guild and Sally Kidson - even had a couple of front-page stories! 

My background is in print, but I love the immediacy of radio, and how it tends to cut through your waffle to what the issue is. The average radio bulletin story is about 40 seconds - that's about 90 words. 

What does a typical day or week look like for you as Bulletin Editor?
My week starts at 5am on Monday morning (4am when not in daylight saving!). My first job is to look across messages, emails, and RNZ weekend news to check for any urgent news, as Pacific's last news bulletin was the previous Saturday morning. Then, if I'm organised, I'll have held some stories to fill the first few bulletins before the reporters get in. If there's breaking news in that first hour like a cyclone (very common from November to March), I keep across it and get any updates out until the early reporter comes in at 6am. 

Our bulletins are very long - 10 minutes - and are a mix of Pacific, New Zealand and world news, and sports. Once it's read on-air, it goes to the archive, and I prep for the next hour. Then rinse and repeat. I am lucky in that I still get to do some writing of my own, but most of my job is subbing, rewriting correspondents' reports for radio, and turning around Pacific newspaper content. Grammar nerd in her element! 

What is the most challenging part of the role?
The 4am Monday starts from April to September! 5 is fine, but 4 is a shock to the system. The days when there are multiple breaking stories at once are a challenge, especially if it's something urgent like cyclone warnings that we need to get on radio and online as fast as we can for people's safety. Providing weather warnings to the region is part of our service. 

There are also often a lot of layers and complications in Pacific issues - which takes a bit of wading through and support from experienced colleagues. 

How do you and your team decide what stories to include in the bulletin?
It is much like any news service. You use your news judgement to decide what is and isn't worth doing, and what the stronger stories are.

For us, weather warnings will always be high up if not the lead. Sometimes, we're the only service people can access in the midst of a disaster. If a story has audio with it - a tape of someone speaking or a voiced report - that tends to push it up the ranks. 

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Christina Persico

Bulletin Editor

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RNZ Pacific

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