In 1966 I went to Hamilton Teachers College and Waikato University (they were on the same campus). I was only 16. As well as training to become a teacher, I also did university courses including English Literature and Pure Mathematics. These were rocky years for me as not only did I encounter the Black Dog (and thought it was the 'devil'), but I was also doing everything my father had told me I couldn’t do until I was 21. Somehow I managed to get a Dip. Teaching in 1969 and a B.Ed. in 1970. After teaching mostly Maori and Niuean Island children for a year in Grey Lynn, Auckland, in 1972 I went back to university to do a Master of Education. In early 1973, I threw it all away – and burnt my half-finished thesis – to go to India. You can read more about this sudden change in my life’s direction in my book The Serpent Rising.
In 2007, I went back to university to do an editing course. I ended up doing a post-graduate certificate and then a diploma in journalism. In 2010 I was granted an Australian Postgraduate Award towards a PhD, which I finished in three years. I researched political blogs on mainstream news sites and how they compared to their alternative counterparts. Blogging in the mainstream: Australian journalist-blogs and public deliberation.
Writing my thesis was the most difficult thing I have ever done and it was hugely stressful; I often felt like giving up. However, one of my two reviewers was Professor Jane Singer, who is a world authority on online journalism. I was delighted with her feedback. She wrote: 'I very much enjoyed reading this thesis. It is interesting, original and important work, nicely structured and presented, with a solid grounding in the relevant literature. ?The research is highly suitable for publication, and I certainly would urge the author to pursue publication.'
During those years I had four peer-reviewed papers published (see below); thankfully, I won't be having anymore! While I had toyed with the idea of working in academia, I was glad to get out of there. I found academic writing a bit soul-destroying and I much prefer to be self-employed, to be my own boss. The one good thing to come out of it was that it gave me the confidence to return to the book I had been trying to write on my father. If I could write an 80,000 thesis, then surely I could finish my book!
- 'Australian journalist-blogs: a shift in audience relationships or mere window dressing?', Journalism: theory, practice & criticism (2016), Vol. 17, Iss. 3, pp. 331-347.
- 'Defining blog: A fool's errand or a necessary undertaking', Journalism: theory, practice & criticism (2012), Vol. 13, Iss. 4, pp. 483-499. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1464884911421700.
- 'Newspaper Blogs: The genuine article or poor counterfeits', Media International Australia (2010), Vol. 135, pp. 19-31.
- 'Are predictions of newspapers’ impending demise exaggerated?', Asia Pacific Media Educator (2010), Iss. 20, pp. 37-52. http://ro.uow.edu.au/apme/vol1/iss20/5