How can you sum up a 25-year career in just a few hundred words? You can’t really, if you want to do it any justice.
I’ll just offer a fond farewell – to those people whom I was unable to speak to directly over this, my final week as editor of the Peninsula News Review – to our readers who have stuck with us over the years – to all the people whose stories I was graciously allowed to tell in these pages, and in the pages of the newspapers I have worked at since my days as a cub reporter in the Black Press publication in my home town of Quesnel.
It was at that Interior paper, under my mentor editor Jerry MacDonald, where I learned some of the lessons that have stayed with me, such as: write to the mentality of a logger (or your mother) but do not insult their intelligence, or; in the case of student theatre productions, if you haven’t got anything nice to say about it – run a photo and a caption.
There were other lessons – including a full page of letters telling me to go get another job, among other epithets, following what I thought was a measured play review (see: anything nice to say, above). And each lesson was about knowing your audience, writing stories that meant something to them and how, as someone whose work is read all the time by the hawkeyes of the world, to be tactful when necessary (see: school plays, above).
There have always been more lessons. When I became a young editor at a small paper in Houston, B.C., and again in Fernie and again in Alberta for a while, and then to Parksville here on the Island. I have been lucky enough to come across people in many walks of life that were helpful and made sure I had the right information and asked the right questions. That’s the thing about being a community reporter and editor, you never stop learning.
And if you enjoy talking to people, helping them tell their stories and, maybe – just maybe, helping someone along the way, then it’s worth the effort.
Sure, there have been missteps, misspellings and misquotes along the way. But I’ve always felt that you own those mistakes, fix them if you can, and hopefully there’s enough respect left over for a rebuild.
I think I’m leaving the industry with few derelict buildings underfoot.
Regrets? Oh, yeah. There’s always that story you didn’t quite get to, or person or community you feel is still under served or ignored. But as I’ve found over the years, there are more stories out there than one can reasonably tackle, and you just hope your team can find a way to dig those out, over time.
I’ve won a few awards along the way, but I’ve always felt that the greatest reward has come from people who, week in and week out, enjoy the read.
So, dear readers, here’s hoping you continue to enjoy the read; the work of the reporters here in Greater Victoria and elsewhere; and that they’ll always be able to teach us about our world.