What I’m leaving

By the time you read this, somebody else may be sitting in this chair and putting together stories at this computer.

Last week, I told you why I’m leaving The Reporter in a column imaginatively titled “Why I’m leaving.” This week, as the column title so creatively suggests, I’m going to give you a taste of exactly what I’m leaving behind and, hopefully, paint a more accurate picture of this office than the one you may have formed in your own mind.

I think there’s a misconception that, because this is a weekly newspaper covering a huge area (four counties, in case you weren’t aware), we have a massive office building located in some far-off ivory tower, and that we’re completely unavailable to the general public.

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We don’t. And we’re not.

The people at The Reporter grew up in, and still live in, the communities we now cover. We’ve seen this region rise, fall, succeed, fail, achieve, and struggle over the years. We cared about our communities all through these times, and we still care about them today.

That’s partly because we actually live in these communities. We shop for our groceries, pick up our drive-thru coffee, get our vehicles repaired and pay our taxes here. Some of us even make mortgage payments here. We get together with friends, watch ball games, enjoy a good ceilidh, hit the beach and go to church here.

In many respects, we’re just like you. In many other respects, however, we’re not carbon copies of the people around us, or of each other. This office, and this newspaper, would be dreadfully boring if that were the case.

We bring our own likes, dislikes, ups, downs, joys, gripes, and favourite fast-food into this office. Different things make us laugh (although early episodes of The Simpsons always seem to make us laugh), or get us angry, or quiet our moods.

Through it all, we don’t bring any personal agendas to our work. Well, that’s not entirely true. We have one personal agenda, and that’s to serve you, our readers.

But you shouldn’t take my word for it. If I had one wish for the future of this newspaper, it would be for the community in general to realize what exactly we have here.

Even after I leave, The Reporter will still have a combined 49 years’ worth of Strait area news and sports coverage. Yes, forty-nine. Very few news organizations anywhere in Atlantic Canada can make that claim.

That’s a lot of newspaper copy. That’s a plethora of photos. That’s an immeasurable amount of time spent in our cars, criss-crossing Richmond, Inverness, Guysborough and Antigonish counties to get to events and stories of every conceivable size.

Now, I won’t suggest that you should continue reading The Reporter simply because its staff has been at it for so long. That’s nonsense. I turn 45 later this month, and I’ve lived long enough to see some pitiful excuses for news and sports coverage within other media sources, justified because the writer “has always been there.” That’s not the bar we use to measure journalism; quality, integrity, depth and accuracy should be the bar. The Reporter has all four, in spades, and it had them well before I started my latest tour of duty here.

This newspaper, now in its 36th year of operation, is a valuable resource, made even more so by its expansion into digital and social media. I don’t think I have to tell you to use that resource, or we’d never get the amount of requests we do for stories and event coverage.

Instead, I’ll ask you to get to know the people who make up that resource. As I mentioned earlier, they live and work right in your backyard. And even if you don’t see them at your local convenience store or restaurant, you probably won’t have to wait too long to find them in your neck of the woods, snapping a photo or chasing down next week’s headlines.

So give a friendly “hello” to editor Jake Boudrot and reporters Matt Draper and Grant McDaniel when you see them in your community, or visit them in this office. Try to remember that they’re not here to solve your problems or right your perceived wrongs, but that they’re real people doing an often-difficult job to serve you.

They have made this office a special place during my nearly-10 years here. So have our hardworking and creative head of advertising, Nicole Fawcett, and office manager/classifieds editor/unsung hero Melanie Holder, one of the most thoughtful, respectful, and dignified co-workers I’ve ever had, at this or any office.

I will miss them all and I thank them all.

And I hope that, from now on, you’ll get to know them all.