Breaking the news

In just two years at one of New Zealand’s largest news publications, Stuff, 23-year-old journalist Karanama Ruru has covered some of the biggest events in recent times, from the 2023 general election, Cyclone Gabrielle, and important Te Ao Māori topics. 

As a young Māori kid living in West Auckland, Karanama never thought working in media was “accessible”, saying his journey into the journalism profession was “an accident”.

At university, Karanama studied history with the goal of becoming a teacher, but everything changed when he began working for 95bFM, the country’s oldest corporate-free broadcaster run by students. 

“I got a taste as to what journalism was. I was only writing bulletins, but I started to work my way up to reading the bulletins,” he reveals. 

His tenure at 95bFM exposed him to the world of media, interviewing Carmen Parahi, Pou Tiaki Matua at Stuff, about being one of the only organisations to apologise for their representation of Māori in the media. 

“I really started to look at how we, as young people interested in journalism, can help change our industry,” he says.

In early 2022, Karanama made his way into the Stuff newsroom permanently, becoming the reporter for young people and Te Ao Māori affairs. 

Entering a national newsroom, Karanama has found his unique perspective as a digital native gave him an advantage, as he understood that people of his generation were accessing their news through TikTok or Instagram.

“I’m a reporter but I’m also a living breathing member of society. I understand what some of the trends are and what younger people care about, [so] it does give me a real advantage,” he says. 

His Māori heritage also means he has a unique perspective. “It’s a lot of work, you are essentially trying to reverse about 180 years of mistrust in media, justified distrust I might say, because we [media] haven’t done our jobs properly in that regard,” he says.

“It’s hard because a lot of Māori reporting is based on trust and relationships you’ve built. While I do have an advantage in that regard, I don’t think it should just be minority reporters reporting on minority communities. I think it takes all of us to really change our culture in the newsroom, and while we are making progress, there’s still a bit of work to be done.” 

He says it is all about ensuring the media is accurate in their representation of all the communities that make up Aotearoa New Zealand. 

In his nearly two-year career at Stuff, one of his favourite stories was in the lead up to the 2023 general election.

Finding an everyday person to speak on a subject is tough because not everyone is willing to talk, so when he found a young woman living in West Auckland on the benefit to talk about the cost-of-living, Karanama was reminded why he loves this job. 

“You get out and you talk to everyday people. You can get some incredible stories of resilience of not giving up and it makes you fall in love with the job,” he adds. 

“Journalists do what we do because we love hearing from our people, our communities.”

This article was first published in our December/January 2023/2024 issue.

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About Bernadette Basagre

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email [email protected].

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