Meet the team: Senior reporter Rodney Stevens
GLADSTONE has only been my home as a journalist since April 20, but I am far from a rookie or new to newsrooms, starting my career in 2004 while still at university.
After growing up on the NSW Central Coast at Terrigal, and attending Terrigal High School, completing my HSC in 1992, I first worked in carpentry and detail joinery for 18 months.
I had signed an apprenticeship when, the week before Christmas, the 100-plus year-old company I worked for, Beattie and Frost, folded.
Then I did an additional six months the following year in detail joinery until I joined the National Australia Bank (NAB).
I worked in a variety of positions from a ledger keeper to teller, to number one teller in charge of up to 12 people and cash holdings in excess of $6 million, to credit card applications.
Working on the Central Coast and Sydney’s north shore, I spent five-and-a-half years with NAB before I left.
During that time with NAB, I studied accounting.
When the possibility of becoming a communications technician with Telstra arose, I jumped at the chance, and was one of 10 people recruited from more than 900 applicants.
Within 12 months I had completed four years’ of training in a new fast-track program.
I had my own van and was doing internet, telephone and fax installations in homes and businesses all over the Central Coast.
Then in 1999, I moved to Sydney for the next 18 months, working in convenience stores for friends.
During the year 2000, I decided to go to university to study journalism and enrolled at Southern Cross University.
After three-and-a-half years study in a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Media, I began working casual weekend shifts at the Grafton Daily Examiner for six months in 2004.
Once I completed university, I was employed by then editor, Peter Ellem, as a cadet journalist in 2005.
In 2007, my partner at the time suggested we start our own publication, Clarence River Lifestyle Magazine.
My partner and I split after one issue of the magazine, which I then ran solo, doing layouts and design, advertising, editorial and deliveries for three years until the GFC hit and I returned to The Daily Examiner in 2010.
While running Clarence River Lifestyle, I was travelling 250km some days to work in Yamba, and back to Lismore where I was living.
Then an opportunity arose to transfer to The Northern Star newspaper in Lismore as court, police, crime and emergency services reporter, covering the Lismore, Byron Bay, Ballina, Casino and Kyogle regions.
There I covered everything from community news to multiple fatalities to supreme court murder trials - the longest court trial spanning 26 days.
Following the Northern Star, in 2017, I was employed by independent media company Echo Publications, covering courts around the NSW Northern Rivers region for 12 months.
Then I got a job as operations manager at a national supplier, importing roof top tents for vehicles, until I knew journalism was where I was meant to be.
Every day as a journalist is different - you meet some amazing people and learn some incredible things.
During my career I have interviewed Prime Ministers John Howard, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, world champion sports stars, globally famous musicians, authors, actors, barristers, solicitors, academics, state premiers, police, mayors and councillors, the general public, criminals and activists.
In my spare time I enjoy motorcycle riding, motorsports, photography, drone photography, computers and technology, reading and researching, travelling and exploring nature.
I have been privileged to work alongside and learned from Walkley Award winning and nominated journalists and photojournalists.
Over the years I have been fortunate to get stories printed on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald, and in The Daily Telegraph and The Courier Mail.
Due to stories I have written, I have been interviewed on national radio programs by Ray Hadley and John Laws.
Since 2004, I have seen the national media landscape go through many changes and I wouldn’t swap what I have learned and achieved in my career for anything.
THE OBSERVER TEAM: