Michael King: Journalist: A Study of the Influence of Journalism on King's Later Writing
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Michael King is an acclaimed writer, author and communicator. When he died in a car accident he was eulogised as one of New Zealand's leading citizens for his literary contribution. He is celebrated as a writer who communicated history in a way that was palatable and comprehensible to all New Zealanders. He is also remembered for his commentary on New Zealand as a bi-cultural society. This thesis debates whether his years as a journalist gave him the skills to write, argue and communicate better. King was not a journalist for long and then he taught journalism, but those years served as a bridge between academia and a life in everyday New Zealand. Good writing and good journalistic writing have been analysed and refined down to basic rules which are then measured against King's work. Drivers to good writing have also been identified and these relate to the emotional and psychological characteristics of a good writer. Anecdotal evidence about King's work as a journalist and then as a writer has been gathered and tested against the rules and drivers. Two key themes have emerged. One that King was born with a natural ability to write and this was fuelled by strong reading and writing habits early in his life. The second is that King worked at being a good journalist, he learned rules and disciplines which improved his writing and these stayed with him throughout his literary career. The issue of objectivity is a moot point for journalists and there is debate about how objective journalists can realistically be. One of the reasons King left daily journalism was because he became frustrated with the constraints of objectivity. The thesis debates how this impacted on his writing and the direction of his later work.