Monday, January 12, 2009

What is wrong with characters?

It's not so much the characters that are in the wrong, but the city-folk who show a complete and utter lack of it. Call it the heat and humidity, but up here in Port Hedland and the surrounding areas I've met more "characters" than I have in a long while.

I'm met a kiwi nurse who's a budding real estate mogul, a couple of miners who thought nothing of taking a couple of city kids out fishing, a drunken (country drunk, not city drunk) journalist and an earnest roadside motel owner trying to bring up the standards of hospitality in the hottest town in name but a few.

You just don't meet those sorts in the hustle and bustle of the city, where spare time is spent on blackberries rather than down at the local draining more than a few.

Some of you will point to your fair share of characters in the city, and I fully understand that there are characters in the city worthy of James Joyce style rambling odysseys, but there genuinely seems to be a higher concentration of them up here. It's almost as if there's a direct correlation between humidity and zaniness, between isolation and genuine character.

Anyhow, onto the story for the week.

One I'm working on right now involves the lack of mental health professionals in the Pilbara region. Apparently it's a story that's been bandied about quite a bit up here but in a region with not much news you're bound to repeat more than a few stories. All you can do is give it a fresh lick of paint and hope the mumbo jumbo flies.

Anyhow, the student nursing group I'm up here with turned me onto the story and gave me a fair few contacts to go on. Well, let's just say the frustrations of a holiday-period started to bite as I found nearly everybody was away on holiday.

I managed to get through to a few people though, and managed to get some good quotes about the lack of infrastructure and ridiculous (like, 1500 a week ridiculous) rents making it hard to attract people to the region.

I also managed to get a good quote from a women's wellness centre talking about the effects of a lack of professionals in the Pilbara, so I managed to write an article that not only aired grievances about things but also examined the effects of those grievances.

I also got in touch with the health department's PR section.

For those of you trying to do student journalism in Perth, you'll know that the Health Department PR section is a Ferris wheel without the fun. That is to say, you'll be taken around in circles so quickly it'll make your head spin.

Luckily, I managed to get in touch with a PR rep who said she'd pass my questions onto the relevant people soon so now I'm waiting for their response s I can give them a right of reply as it were.

Normally, if a source doesn't get back to you within deadline you can but a little tag down the bottom of your story saying "The Health Department failed to get back in touch with us before deadline" which is journalist shorthand for "they were fucking bastards and wouldn't give us the time of day".

I'm going to leave it until Wednesday for my deadline, as I'm due to pitch my article on Friday afternoon at the latest but I'm going to try and knock out my articles for the week by Wednesday evening so I can get working on some radio stuff we're doing up here.

'Till next time

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