Innovation and collaboration key to success: Nicky Hager

May 22, 2017

Innovation and collaboration key to success: Nicky Hager

Mr Hager encouraged journalism students to pursue feature writing and researching social issues. Photo: Grace Dobson Phillips

Author and investigative journalist Nicky Hager says collaborations between journalists and news organisations is the future of reporting.

Renowned for his reporting on controversial issues and detailed research methods, Mr Hager has been uncovering major social issues for more than 20 years.

He spoke to a group of AUT student journalists last week about investigating stories and overcoming obstacles in his profession.

“I’m a big believer in the growing idea that collaborating [with other news organisations] is much better than competing,” said Mr Hager.

In March this year, Mr Hager released his seventh book, Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the Meaning of Honour, with fellow journalist Jon Stephenson.

Both journalists were investigating the same story, “so we agreed to work on it together, and we could really multiply what we could achieve”, said Mr Hager.

“I could talk to the sources I found, and then write up lists of questions for Jon to ask his sources about in Afghanistan.”

The book investigates and uncovers the hidden truth about civilian deaths in Afghanistan, which the authors said were covered up  by the New Zealand military.

Building connections with sources and maintaining them was the most important part of the job, said Mr Hager.

“If I want new sources I say to myself ‘I have to get out of the house’ and meet people.”

Nicky Hager (left) and AUT journalism student Katie Doyle. Photo: Grace Dobson Phillips

But the most important part of Mr Hager’s life was not his career but rather, spending time with his daughter. “It’s saved my life I think actually,” he said.

“The main thing that has helped me de-stress in my adult life has been being a parent, you have to turn off and listen and play.”

Mr Hager’s main advice for aspiring journalists is to track people down, get on with it and be innovative.

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