Farewelling a seasoned science journo

Reporter Paul Gorman departs The Press after 14 years, including a stint spent getting to grips with earthquake science.

Paul takes up a position as senior communications advisor at the University of Otago at the end of January, moving south to Dunedin to immerse himself in research – and assist scientists communicate it.

Over the years Paul fulfilled a number of roles at The Press, including business reporter, night editor and editorial writer, but his first passion was science and this came into play as disaster struck his city.

“The Canterbury quakes were a highlight and a lowlight – I’ll never forget the incredible camaraderie with my Press colleagues and life out at Logistics Drive during that quake period, and how we all looked out for each other. How we all managed to still do our jobs given what we were going through, and did them well enough to win awards, I still don’t know,” Paul says of the February 2011 earthquake that destroyed the Press building.

He adds: “There was a huge public thirst for what we were doing and it also showed the strength of newspapers – many people without power could not charge phones and laptops to get vital news online. We saw that again in Kaikoura just a few weeks ago.”

In November, just a day after the Kaikoura earthquake, Paul spoke to Dunedin’s Channel 39 about covering disasters and communicating risk and uncertainty.

As Cantabrians dealt with aftershocks and the emotional aftermath of the quakes, Paul filed dozens of science-related reports, experience that has inspired his upcoming book Whose Fault? which looks at the science of the earthquakes and how it was communicated. The book will be published in February by Bridget Williams Books.

For the last couple of years, Paul has also been editing the Catalyst science page which is syndicated each Monday across Fairfax daily newspapers. Press reporter Will Harvie is acting editor of Catalyst. Paul finishes up at Fairfax next Friday.

The SMC team would like to pay tribute to Paul’s dedication to science reporting over the years and wishes him well for his new life and career in Dunedin.