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www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Stockton girl Nathalie Craig has been given a once-
in- a-lifetime opportunity to write for an English
newspaper and experience a very different life in
the northern hemisphere.
I am writing to you from the other side of the
globe as I complete my final weeks working as a
journalist in England.
A Hunter girl all my life, I was chosen for a Rotary
exchange which has seen me working for three
months at the Leicester Mercury newspaper in the
East Midlands of England.
Leaving my weekly community newspaper in
Tea Gardens, where I began my jour nalism
career three year s ago, and moving to a daily
newspaper in England may seem like a giant leap.
In some ways it is, but in more ways, the hear t of
journalism remains constant.
I am a story teller, through and through.
Coming to England meant telling new stories,
stories that weren't from my home country,
which felt overwhelming at first. On my first day
I stood at the entr ance to the Leicester Mercury
office, swamped by its size compared with my
one-room office in Tea Gardens where locals
strolled in and out as if they shared the office
with me. I wondered if the physical distance from
the people here would make it hard for me to
lear n about the community.
I felt a little ner vous at first but I reassured myself
that this is what I do, jour nalism. That's where my
During my first couple of weeks all my phone
calls began in the same way:
"You don't sound like you're from around her e."
"I'm an Australian."
"Oh yes. I knew ther e was a funny twang to
Once we established the origin of the 'funny'
accent, the locals were happy to chat. And chat
we did. I began to lear n who some of the key
player s were in the Leicester shire community
and life in the newsroom began to r un smoothly.
I have spent the majority of my time on the
news desk where I have covered every thing
from council development stories to police news
and community events. I've even written about
revamping tr aditional red English phone boxes
into libraries and defibrillator units. As you can
imagine, the pay phone is not an in-demand
ser vice anymore.
Kangaroo attacks, shark attacks and Austr alian
humour aside, life at an English newspaper is not
vastly dissimilar from the world of print down
under. Perhaps one of the main differences is the
English politeness . Phr ases often heard around
the newsroom include, "Are you all right? ", "Is
that all right? " I apologised to one colleague for
continually asking him for phone number s for
stories . He answered with, "Always a plea sure,
never a bother" -- oh, so English !
One of the most thrilling aspects of my time
here has been the oppor tunity to go on two
press trips abroad to write tr avel features. The
fir st was to Crete where I was royally treated. I
cer tainly lapped up the Greek hospitality -- and
food. Soon I'm heading on another press trip to
the French Alps.
To spend three months working in my profession
on the other side of the world has been
invaluable. It's strengthened my confidence,
knowledge and networks and been absolutely
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BY NATHALIE CRAIG
Nathalie Craig rising to the occasion.
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