About

The Jim Tucker who owns this website is the New Zealand one.

That needs to be said, because there are journalists and journalism teachers named Jim Tucker in Brisbane, New York and California. There may be others.

This Jim Tucker has landed back in his old home town, New Plymouth, on the west coast of the North island of New Zealand, after a half-century career as a reporter, editor, subeditor, photographer and journalism teacher.

This one is supposed to be retired, but it turns out retirement from journalism is a myth. I’m busier than when I held down a day job, the last one being as head of the Whitireia Journalism School in Wellington, which I left in 2013.

Since then I have published a book on water quality in my home province, Taranaki; spent three months researching a big defamation case (it was settled out of court); edited a book on motor-racing; written the occasional news story for the NZ Herald; researched and written a book about a pioneering Taranaki family; and – more recently – written in-depth articles for North & South and Live magazines.

I’m currently writing a book to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hospice Taranaki, which will be published in 2017.

This blog – one of several I administer – aims to aggregate my work in one place. It will publish the Live magazine articles as they appear, as well as samples from my books as they are published.

Those on journalism, prostate cancer, water quality, and newsroom middle management can be found on other pages here.

My background, briefly:

  • Began as a cadet reporter at the Taranaki Herald in New Plymouth in 1965. Became chief reporter in 1970. I won six national awards for journalism, including news, features and business.
  • In 1976, I moved to the Auckland Star as a reporter. Later served as picture editor, editorial manager, deputy editor, associate editor and finally editor. My main project there was setting up the Sunday Star (now the Sunday Star-Times).
  • From 1979 to 1981, had a stint as news editor of NZ Woman’s Weekly.
  • From 1987 to 1998, I taught journalism at Auckland Institute of Technology (now University of Technology), where I was head of the journalism department. Obtained a master of arts degree in communication studies, my thesis being on ethical decision-making by young journalists. Wrote my first textbook on journalism, Kiwi Journalist, in 1991, followed by another in 1998, Intro.
  • Moved back to New Plymouth with wife Lin in 1998 and headed up the journalism school at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki.
  • Worked at the Sunday Star-Times for six months in 2004 as acting chief reporter and as a subeditor.
  • Headed the NZ Journalists Training Organisation from 2005 to 2007. Edited several journalism textbooks.
  • Moved to Whitireia Journalism School in 2007. Retired in 2013. Moved back to New Plymouth with Lin. Chaired the advisory committee for the WITT journalism school and did a bit of teaching there.
  • In 2014, I published Clearing the Water, the followup to an investigative series I wrote in 1971 about water pollution in Taranaki’s many streams.
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One Response to About

  1. Robert Boyd-Bell says:

    Agree Robert. Badly worded. It was supposed to imply John was the first journalist to publish a story saying the pilots got the wrong information from AirNZ. That is how James Hollings portrays it in his book. JT

    Extract from Jim Tucker, Taranaki Daily News, 21 December 2017

    ‘Most New Zealanders of a certain age can remember exactly where they were on the evening of 28 November 1979… many shared a mounting sense of dread as it became apparent that Air New Zealand flight TE901, with 257 people aboard, had disappeared…’
    So begins a chapter in James Hollings’ compendium of NZ’s best investigative journalism over 150 years. It records the work of John Macdonald, the Auckland Star aviation writer who uncovered the most likely cause of the Erebus disaster. Air New Zealand largely blamed its pilot, but others – Macdonald, experienced Air New Zealand pilot Gordon Vette, and Justice Peter Mahon, who headed the inquiry – were convinced pilot Jim Collins was given the wrong co-ordinates.
    Mahon’s damning summary, rejected by the Muldoon government, has remained in our lexicon for a single phrase the judge applied to Air New Zealand’s submissions – “an orchestrated litany of lies.” In 1983, Macdonald and Vette co-authored a book titled Impact Erebus. A significant portion is based on Macdonald’s meticulous research.

    Dear Jim
    As I explained several weeks ago, I have to disagree with your published attribution to John Macdonald of having “uncovered the most likely cause of the Erebus disaster”.

    The delay in replying further has been caused by the time of year, the slight delay in contacting the former Head of the Photographic Laboratory at the University of Auckland, and my slowness in accessing and re-reading “Impact Erebus Two”, the first part of which was co-written by Gordon Vette and John Macdonald.

    I have no intention of diminishing the role of John Macdonald in helping Gordon Vette write the first part of the book, but he did not “uncover the most likely cause of the Erebus disaster”. Nor did he have any role in the second part of the book detailing the research.

    The acknowledgements on pages 15 to 17 of the book contain many staff from the University of Auckland, including the staff of the photographic laboratory as item 3 of the acknowledgements, following thanks to Vette’s family and the legal team headed by Alister Macalister.

    Within the 3 pages of acknowledgements to the University of Auckland are:

    Bill Cole – Assistant Lecturer, Department of Psychology (formerly NZBC TV)
    Professor Mike Corballis – Department of Psychology
    Mr Arthur Ellis – Pathology Laboratory
    Dr J A Gribben – Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology
    Professor R J Irwin – Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology
    Professor Michael Joseph – Department of English
    Dr Barry Kirkwood – Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology
    Stuart Macfarlane – Senior Lecturer, School of Law.

    As you may appreciate at the time the event and the subsequent Royal Commission headed by Justice Mahon created a great deal of attention in Auckland and as the Head of the Audio Visual Centre at the time, including responsibility for the Photographic Laboratories, I took a personal interest in encouraging the research.

    The contribution of the University was real and significant over many years and many Departments. All that research and work was not undertaken solely by John Macdonald.

    Robert Boyd-Bell
    16 January 2018

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