Wednesday, December 06, 2017

New BWB Text about reporting on Canterbury Earthquakes

This is the story of the craziest days of my life.

On 4 September 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck 30 kilometres west of Christchurch. Half a year later, a 6.3 aftershock hit Christchurch, killing 185 people and causing widespread damage throughout the city.

Then, just after midnight on 14 November 2016, it happened again. Multiple faults ruptured near Kaikōura in a massive 7.8 earthquake. Paul Gorman writes,

I sat on the couch and realised the house was now moving in a circular motion that was starting to get quite alarming – the curtains were swinging and the doors were opening and closing. ‘It’s not stopping,’ Lucie said after a few more seconds. And then I began feeling quite nauseous… It was pretty clear to me this was a very big earthquake somewhere in the South Island or perhaps in Wellington, powerful enough to have caused major damage or even fatalities.

Paul Gorman reported on the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes. He was a senior writer at The Press and was a finalist in 2011 and 2013 in the Canon (Media) Awards for his science reporting on the Canterbury earthquakes.

In Portacom City Gorman describes his own deeply personal story of working as a journalist during the quakes, while also speaking more broadly about the challenges that confront reporters at times of crisis. He discusses the difficulties of reporting on complex and uncertain science during natural disasters, and explores the continuing effects of the earthquakes for residents and communities. As Gorman concludes,

the ripples the earthquake sent out across the region and down the years since continue to affect our lives, our livelihoods and endeavours in so many unforeseen ways.

About the Author

Paul Gorman is now an assistant editor at the Otago Daily Times in Dunedin, following a brief stint at the University of Otago. However, for much of the time he was writing this book he was a senior writer at The Press in Christchurch, where he was also editor of the weekly Fairfax Media science page, ‘Catalyst’. He has won two Qantas Awards: the best investigation of the year award in 2006 for uncovering Transpower’s overseas South Island electricity grid deals, and science and environment reporter of the year in 2008 for stories on the controversies surrounding A2 milk. He was also a finalist in 2011 and 2013 in the renamed Canon Awards for his science reporting on the Canterbury earthquakes.
He was editor of the Press’s most recent book on the earthquakes, A City Recovers: Christchurch Two Years After the Quakes (Random House, 2013), was a contributing author for the first two quake books, Earthquake: Christchurch, New Zealand, 22 February 2011 (Random House, 2011) and The Big Quake: Canterbury, September 4, 2010 (Random House, 2010), and was co-author of Snow Storm: The South Island’s Big Chill (Random House, 2006).
Before joining The Press in 2002 he worked for the University of Canterbury, the Otago Daily Times and the New Zealand Meteorological Service. He has a BSc in physical geography and a GradDipJ, both from Canterbury University. Born in London, he emigrated to New Zealand at the age of nearly ten. He is married to Lucie and has three sons – Joseph, Ambrose and Bede.

Published by Bridget Williams Books | RRP $14.99 print, $4.99 ebook | 
Published 8 December 2017

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