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Meat raffles and Journalism Idol: Jon Stephenson's road back to Afghanistan

The path of freelance journalism is a rocky one – when you’re covering an event overseas, the fee for your work sometimes doesn't even meet the cost of getting to the story. Prizewinning journalist Jon Stephenson is returning to Afghanistan before Christmas to tackle a number of stories, and a bunch of his friends want to give him a bit of support.

To that end, that a group of fellow journalists and broadcasters have banded together behind Gone By Xmas, a fundraiser to be held on Tuesday December 13, and MC-ed by blogger and media personality Russell Brown.

Alongside good music, a silent auction and the ubiquitous meat pack raffle, the event will also host the world’s first “Journalism Idol”. In this brutal and hard-hitting competition TV3 journalist Mike McRoberts will fight it out with broadcaster Mikey Havoc, comedian Rose Matafeo and fellow TV3 reporter Tova O’Brien to see who can deliver the news under pressure and claim the title of “King Journo”. Of course, no talent show is complete without a panel of uncompromising judges, so the trio will be assessed by veteran current affairs journalist and Media7 producer Phil Wallington, Kiwi FM’s Wammo (Glenn Williams), and New Zealand Herald columnist Tracey Barnett.

The silent auction will offer a range of items including framed photos taken by Stephenson in Afghanistan, a special edition of the Phoenix Foundation’s Buffalo with a one-off cover by cartoonist Tom Scott, tickets to Lawrence Arabia’s Town Hall gig, a tour of the TV3 newsroom escorted by Mike McRoberts followed by a meal with him, and a set of poster art from 95bfm.

Potential bidders who can't make it in person will be able to check out the items online and put in a bid by email.

Stephenson has spent much of the past decade reporting on America's “war on terror” - particularly the 2001 US-led war in Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the ongoing violence in those countries. He's also reported on the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, and from Gaza, East Timor, and Zimbabwe, as well as on natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in Asia-Pacific region, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province.

What: Gone by Xmas: A fundraiser for journalist Jon Stephenson
When: 6.30pm - 9pm, Tuesday December 13
Where: The Horse and Trap Bar, 3 Enfield Street, Mt Eden, Auckland
Tickets: $20 on the door or from:
http://www.eventfinder.co.nz/2011/gone-by-xmas/auckland/mt-eden