27 Apr 2018

The founding editor of The Wireless says goodbye

9:50 am on 27 April 2018

My last post.



Founding editor Marcus Stickley at the 2016 Canon Media Awards.

At the 2016 Canon Media Awards. Photo: Canon Media Awards

Every month or two The Wireless team get together to talk about the future. We discuss story ideas, projects, what we want to do better or differently. We also talk about what makes a story a Wireless story. 

Over the past five years the words we use to describe the topics we cover and our tone has changed as we’ve evolved what we make. But one thing has always been fundamental: depth, and authenticity that comes with it. We’ve always aimed to take our audience to the heart of a story.

The Wireless has reported from the dusty streets of Delhi, the whale calving grounds of Tonga, covered mind-boggling K pop and e-sports tournaments, and travelled quake-wrecked highways.

With depth, breadth and quality of our stories, it's easy to forget that The Wireless was created for and (mostly) by young people living in Aotearoa. That mission was and still is very much part of what we do.  

In the last line of the post I wrote introducing The Wireless when it launched in 2013, I issued a call out for “writers, videographers, photographers, designers and courageous thinkers”. I was hopeful, but I had no idea who might come forward or who I might find. 

To date, there have been 296 contributors. Every one of them has helped make The Wireless what it is. Many of them were straight from journalism or design school. For some this has been a step to other bigger things, for others it’s been the very first tentative step into chasing a bigger dream.  

When I sign off from The Wireless later today - having led it through its creation, launch and first four-and-a-half years - what I’ll miss the most is working with such wonderful storytellers.

What matters most is the stories will continue to be told.

The team will no doubt continue to produce amazing work under Veronica Schmidt, who is taking over as editor. As it always has, The Wireless will no doubt continue to evolve.

Meanwhile, here’s a look back on some of the stories that have defined The Wireless.

In the hackers’ world by Elle Hunt

The mascots of Kiwicon 7: The grass mud horse and the sheep

The mascots of Kiwicon 7: The grass mud horse and the sheep Photo: Unknown

This was the first piece of long-form published on The Wireless, about two weeks after the site launched. Wonderful work from a talented journalist and gifted writer.


Baring my bikini body by Ally Garrett

Ally wears a bikini

The first time I wore a bikini Photo: Unknown

The Wireless launched with a handful of blogs, as well as reporting by our staff journalists. This was the first blog post to really have an impact and shows the power that first person writing can have.


No one’s perfect by Megan Whelan, with illustrations by Pinky Fang

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Photo: Pinky Fang

Intimate and heartbreaking, this first-person story cemented mental health as an issue that The Wireless would be dedicated to covering.


A grain of truth: Racism exists in New Zealand by Sonia Sly

Sonia Sly says she learnt about racism and the shame of being “different” from a young age.

Sonia Sly says she learnt about racism and the shame of being “different” from a young age. Photo: Luke Calder

Confronting stories that tackle questions of identity and put the blowtorch to the myths that New Zealand, as a society, likes to tell itself. Sonia writes of the discrimination she faced growing up in Christchurch, being turned away by an acting agency and how she internalised the racism she faced.


No more Mr Nice Guy by Rebecca Kamm

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Photo: Illustration: Lucy Zee

“Old Dan was flawed, and new Dan spoke of him often,” Rebecca wrote to open this brilliant piece of observational journalism about Brojo, a pay-to-join support community for men.


Caring when there’s no on else to help by Kirsti Whalen

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Photo: Illustration: Kerry Ann Lee

This is the story of a young woman caring for her mum through ovarian cancer. It’s an experience that most who’ve been through it wouldn’t know how to share. Before reading each draft I’d have to steel myself against the emotional pain.

I first got to know Kirsti through the stories she wrote for The Wireless. Now a few years later, we’re married.


The Pencilsword: On A Plate by Toby Morris

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Photo: Illustration: Toby Morris

Toby has been a talented illustrator most of the time I’ve known him, which is about 25 years. He’s produced other work that I like even more than On A Plate, but what sets it apart, and why it was so popular (2.5 million views and counting), is its simplicity and how universal the story is.


Cut off from the world: A journey down Kaikōura’s ruined highway by Tess McClure

Rodney Hugh Clark, owner of Nin's Bin caravan, Kaikoura

Rodney Hugh Clark, owner of Nin's Bin caravan, Kaikoura Photo: Tess McClure

The journey for this dauntless reporting began a year earlier when Tess sought out Pete, one of New Zealand’s last true hermits. After the big quake struck she wanted to find out what happened to him, though the final story ended up being based around Rodney Hugh Clark, the owner of the Nin's Bin crayfish caravan.

One year on from the quake Susan Strongman and Luke McPake came back with another couple great stories, including this one featuring Rodney's son Johnny.


Mental health patients are being locked up when they shouldn't be by Jess McAllen

Woman crouched in room feeling depressed.

Photo: llustration: Rhianna Mccormick-Burns

One of a series of stories produced for out #MentalHealthMatters theme week in 2016, which likely contributed to The Wireless being awarded Website of the Year at the Canon Media Awards.


What’s Going On? with Lucy Zee - Armageddon presented and produced by Lucy Zee, filmed and edited by Eddy Fifield

For weeks, if not months, the team had told me we had to do something with Lucy Zee. My question back was always: What? 

We ended up just sending her to events. The concept couldn’t be more simple. All that mattered was her natural talent.


Tough Crowd produced by Luke McPake

Luke is an unsung hero in The Wireless team. As visual media director, he makes the brand and it's content look good. He also has an unparalleled creativity that can take a simple concept, like having comedians tell jokes to their parents, and make it a banger.


Inside the industry sending Indian students to New Zealand by Mava Enoka, video filmed and edited by Julian Vares

Young Indians in South India

Young Indians in South India Photo: Julian Vares/The Wireless

Mava always could dig out a good story. This one took her to India, where she met some of the agents involved in the dodgy industry that was sending thousands of students to New Zealand. Her reporting won her a Canon Media Award last year.


Where fighters become champions by Max Towle, photos by Chev Hassett

The fighters at Papatoetoe gym.

The fighters at Papatoetoe gym. Photo: Chevron Hassett / The Wireless

Ahead of one of Joseph Parker’s big fights, we went to the gym where New Zealand’s #1 heavyweight started out to meet the next generation of boxers he’s inspired.


Ko toku ao, he ao Māori / My whole world is Māori produced by Shannon Haunui-Thompson, filmed and edited by Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Last year we invited a bunch of talented young Māori from around Aotearoa to a wānanga to talk about the meaning of te reo. The stories that were shared there became the basis for out Te wiki o te reo Māori series. Both the wānanga and the series were led by the wonderful Matariki Williams. This is one of about 20 stories that were produced.


‘Your daughter is history’ by Susan Strongman

Dome Valley

Dome Valley Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

From the first day of this trial, it was clear this was a story that would reveal the seamy of Aotearoa. But more than that, it’s about desperation, betrayal and overcoming the inhumanity of others.

Susan also spent countless hours following up leads outside the courtroom and crafting a truly incredible story.


Beyond the Beehive: Wairoa presented and produced by Max Towle, filmed and edited by John Lake

Ahead of the election, The Wireless went on a road trip around the country. The most revealing stops were in towns like Kawerau, Gisborne and Wairoa. People in those towns had a pride in their community that’s unrivalled, but they also felt forgotten.

If you were Prime Minister, and you had $1 million to spend in Wairoa, what would you spend it on?


Wireless Docs: Medulla Oblongata directed by Roberto Nascimento, produced by Chillbox Creative

Working with The Wireless' visual media director Luke McPake on commissioning Wireless Docs has led to countless conversations about what constitutes a documentary. He's opened my eyes to how broad the form can be, and each new season has been such a vibrant and eclectic mix of work.


*Thanks to everyone who’s watched, read, listened, shared, liked, tweeted the work that’s been produced.