Journalists recall their top stories for 2017

A dead whale was buried, and later exhumed, from a Port Macquarie beach and new rectruit Laura Telford covered the unfolding story.
A dead whale was buried, and later exhumed, from a Port Macquarie beach and new rectruit Laura Telford covered the unfolding story.

What is it about this story that sticks in your mind: 

This was the first story I covered in Port Macquarie, coming from a small outback town Queensland I was in for enough of a culture shock, but for my first story to be on the scale of this one, it was overwhelming and exciting all at once. 

The thing that sticks in my mind was the great sense that we are all in this together. 

Coming from a one person office the feeling that everyone came together to tell the best story and to get the most accurate facts over the two week saga excited me and made me feel I had made the right decision to come to Port. 

Look back on some of Laura’s whale stories:

What were the challenges in writing this story: 

The challenging part of this story was it was constantly changing. Every day for nearly two weeks all I thought about was the whale and being able to tell the story to the best of our ability. 

Besides my obvious challenges (the whale died on my first day) the challenge for the entire team was access to the beach and with updates occurring multiple times a day it was a constant battle to be across everything that was happening and to update the readers in real time.

What kind of stories do you love to write: 

My first love is politics, whether at a local, state, national or international level I love nothing more than dissecting what is going on and making it into manageable parts for people to understand. 

People can disregard politics as something that is too complicated to understand or as something that won't impact their lives, but at the end of the day we elect people who make decisions which will 100 percent impact us and that is why I love writing about politics. It doesn't matter if you are liberal or conservative the conversations you can have about politics are what I find most interesting.

The dead whale could not be dragged back to sea so council made the decision to bury the carcass but it was later exhumed.

The dead whale could not be dragged back to sea so council made the decision to bury the carcass but it was later exhumed.

I also enjoy telling stories that mean something to someone -whether in times of sadness and anger or happiness and joy, and the Nobbys Beach whale was certainly that. It divided the community and regardless of what was actually happening people had an opinion about what they thought should happen.

Is there anything you would do differently with this story:

The whale story was such a learning experience for me, it gave me a crash course in how things work at Fairfax and there is nothing like jumping in the deep end to learn whether or not you can swim. 

At the end of the whale saga I felt like I had been with the Port News for two years not two weeks, but it was two weeks I'd jump at the chance to do again. 

Here is a tweet I posted at the end of my first week at Port News which sums up how I was feeling - happy and exhausted: