Telum Talks To: John Hartevelt from RNZ

Telum Talks To: John Hartevelt from RNZ

By Cindy Paskalina Kweesar

Telum spoke to John Hartevelt, the Executive Editor of RNZ's In Depth, about what should be inside every investigative journalist's toolbox and the profession's ongoing challenges.

What does a typical day look like for you as an Executive Editor in investigative and long-form journalism?
I spend a lot of time listening and talking. That's making plans and putting together stories with reporters and multimedia specialists, working on strategic stuff with senior colleagues, and liaising with news and content colleagues across the organisation on the execution of our work.

How does your team decide which stories to pursue?
Our mission statement in the In Depth team is to generate stories that help people understand how the world really works. If we’re doing that, then I reckon we’re on the right track.

Can you share some of the most memorable stories you covered?
As a Reporter, there were two high-profile criminal cases that were very formative for me as a young journalist: the retrial and acquittal of David Bain and the crime, conviction and sentencing of Clayton Weatherston for the murder of Sophie Elliott.

As an Editor, I've been so fortunate to work with many brilliant journalists on big stories and projects. Among the many memorable are two projects from my Stuff days I'm especially proud of because I feel they were ahead of their time: Nā Niu Tīreni / NZ Made (on the truth about the Treaty) and The Takeover (on the quiet growth in power of Facebook).

What do you find most rewarding in your role?
As an Editor, I get a huge thrill out of supporting people to excel and fulfil their potential as storytellers. As a Journalist, more generally, the feeling of making a difference in the world is still really motivating for me.

What are ongoing challenges or emerging trends in investigative journalism, and how is your team positioned to address them?
Every journalist is expected to deliver stories in a range of different formats for a range of different platforms. This is a positive trend – it's how we find large and diverse audiences for our journalism. It's also a challenge – it takes time, a range of skills and personalities, and a lot of teamwork to achieve.

RNZ is well-placed to tackle this trend / challenge. We have a great depth of talented people and trusted platforms to share our stories on. The big job is to steer the RNZ supertanker onto the course of a truly multimedia organisation, nailing our storytelling across every platform.

What essential tools or skills should be in every investigative journalist's toolbox?
A willingness to pick up the phone, and / or get in front of people and ask lots of good, pointed questions. An ability to listen carefully, spot the angle and get after it. And, a strong competitive streak.

Profile photo by Cole Eastham-Farrelly / RNZ.

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John Hartevelt

Executive Editor

RNZ In Depth

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