You might have noticed we’ve nabbed a new Bulletin editor, the wonderful Anna Rawhiti-Connell. She started this week and has been absolutely nailing it. You’ll see bits and pieces from her throughout the live updates and across the site, and of course in your inbox every morning, so I thought now would be a good opportunity to get to know her a bit better.
Tell me a bit about yourself? Where might our readers know you from?
I’ve been writing for five years and working in social media for 15 years. I was given my start as a columnist and opinion writer at Newsroom and I’m very grateful to them for that. I’ve also written for RNZ and North and South – I did a cover story for them on anxiety and this time of existential dread last year. I started contributing regularly to the Spinoff in September 2021. I’ve written some very fun stuff like The Art of the Plod about being shit at something and doing it anyway, and more serious, reflective pieces on the protests, drinking and Louisa Wall’s legacy.
What are you loving about The Bulletin after a week in the role?
The pace and breadth of it. I won’t lie, I’m pretty tired right now and the word “inflation” and the names of all the journos covering the PM’s trip are haunting my dreams but The Bulletin is this great, challenging puzzle to put together every day. I was always quite good at reading comprehension tests at school but this is that on steroids. Prep starts the day before a Bulletin goes out so you’re looking at things and wondering whether that day’s main focus will hold tomorrow while also casting backwards for context and forwards to anticipate how that issue might look next week, or next month. For me, giving people context really matters – news is fast so looking at how stories build over time to pull out the central threads and background is a big part of the job. News has a cadence and you start to see patterns like Haley Joel Osment saw dead people in The Sixth Sense.
What topics are you most looking forward to diving into?
This is the hardest question you’ve asked me because it feels like the answer is “all of them” right now but I’m conscious I’ve spent the week reading hundreds of news stories. I think the cost of living will be a very big part of what we talk about this year but it’s important that it doesn’t become wallpaper or shorthand, and that we don’t skip over the very real ways it affects people. The health sector reforms will be a focus as well (I have a particular bunch of bugbears about mental health and the way we talk about it). We’re absolutely not clear of Covid-19 yet, whether we’re talking about the virus itself or the debate about just how much societal, economic and political change it’s wrought.
You’ve had a couple of formidable Bulletin editors before you – were you a fan before getting the gig?
A big fan. I bailed up anyone who worked at the Spinoff after The Bulletin launched to tell them how great I thought it was. That included Alex Braae [The Bulletin’s founding editor]. No one was really curating news like that in New Zealand then. It was before the big Substack and newsletter wave and I still think it’s a really useful and generous approach for subscribers – to pull from all the great journalism and build that editorial context. Justin [Giovannetti, editor two] added a whole new dimension to it, being based at the Beehive and arriving here from Canada. He could see things differently and was right in the middle of things during the protests at parliament. As I said, big fan.
Are you a morning person or is coffee your best friend?
My alarm didn’t go off this morning but I still woke up at 4.30am which is incredibly reassuring and/or freakish. I am a morning person but also like coffee. Just one though, when I get up, with a banana. Might add some kiwifruit after this week’s triumphant PR blitz. I’ve learned I write best from around 4am. I also got into the habit of waking very early during lockdown last year and reading far too much news. I feel pretty happy about that habit morphing out of an obsession with the New York Times Covid tracker and into this job. It feels like a healthier direction for me.
Get more of Anna’s musings along with a daily dose of the most important journalism by signing up to The Bulletin here.