Somewhere along the way, it became a custom for scribblers at community newspapers like the Mirror to draft columns of introduction and farewell to the readers in their fair cities.
To be blunt, I didn’t expect to pen both of them in the same year.
A professional development opportunity will take our family a little farther down-Island beginning next week, continuing a trend that began earlier this year when I came to the Mirror from the North Island Gazette in Port Hardy.
Frankly, this southward drift tugs against my natural inclination.
Now it’s on to the Parksville-Qualicum Beach News, where I can only hope the people I work with in the office and in the community match the quality and dedication of those I’ve had the privilege to share time with during my brief stay in Campbell River.
To be sure, it was a interesting seven-plus months. Your junior hockey team swept the table in the Vancouver Island, the BC Provincial and Western Canadian Championships. The year began with a new mayor and council, new school board and new regional district board of directors getting their collective feet underneath them.
A new hotel opened downtown, shortly after the grand opening for the neighbouring Berwick by the Sea retirement community, but Campbell River said farewell to the landmark Quinsam Hotel after nearly a century in operation in Campbellton.
Major construction projects at John Hart power station and at Campbell River Hospital brought employment opportunities and contracts, boosting the local economy.
But at the same time, continued market challenges in the resource sector and infrastructure forced temporary closures of both Quinsam Coal’s production facility and Nyrstar’s Myra Falls zinc and copper mine.
The newspaper industry was not immune to market changes. Black Press first purchased, then closed, the Courier-Islander, leaving the Mirror as the community’s lone local newspaper.
Which is to say, your local newspaper.
Through it all, what stands out for me is how involved the people of Campbell River are with this publication. And rightly so. I’ve worked at a number of different papers through the years and have never seen the sheer volume of freely contributed material from interested people and organizations.
This certainly give both Mirror staff and our readers a leg up on the tectonic shift underway in the business of news media.
No longer can newspaper staffs simply dictate what they share and how they present it. With online outlets and social media providing a 24/7 blitz of information, there is a pressure to jump into the flow to keep from being left behind.
At the same time, the role of the journalist remains. That non-stop flood of information is choked with flotsam and jetsam of rumour, innuendo and misdirection, and it is our job to seine the facts and share them while making clear how they relate to the community and its people.
Plenty of readers will be happy to point out “the newspaper” doesn’t know everything that’s going on in our community. And we’ll be the first to admit it. That’s where you come in. Tips and even questions about something you see may well lead to a reporter breaking a story that is important, useful or interesting to your neighbours. It’s happened before, and will happen again.
I’m on the way out, but the Mirror will be fine. It’s got you.
Thanks for a great ride.