It’s not you, Campbell River, it’s me. No, really, here I go again with my break-up column.
I’ve written these more times than I care to remember because I’ve moved on so many times. I’m sure some people left in my wake think, “There’s something shifty about that guy.”
It’s true. Not shifty in a bad way, but I do keep shifting myself from job to job, while songs like the Stones’ “Before They Make Me Run” or Supertramp’s “Goodbye, Stranger” inevitably run through my brain.
Anyway, yes, I must be moving on. In this case, it’s not far, just down the road, as I’ll be making a pretty lateral move, doing pretty much the same job as I’m doing for another week here, only for the Comox Valley Record.
For me, it’s much closer as I live just outside Courtenay. As much I find the commute along Highway 19A very scenic, the novelty wears off day after day.
I’ll be glad to spend less on gas and less time in my car.
I’ll miss the staff here. They’re great folks, and I’ll no doubt see them from time to time. I have had some fun.
I even stepped smack dab into the middle of a few controversies, though I won’t bother to re-live those here.
These controversies, though, stress the importance of a community paper, to give people a voice and, more importantly, provide some context.
Social media can do the former for better or worse, but it’s absolutely awful at the latter. Part of our job is sifting through the rumour mill, and it’s only gotten harder in the digital age.
Sure, innuendo has always been a part of life in any town, but social media has amplified the noise.
This job entails knowing when it’s time to follow up on a story or take a pass. I wrote a column about six months ago regarding the problems of anonymous sources and how they should be used only sparingly – for example, when a person’s safety or livelihood may be at stake.
More often, it’s simply a request from people who want to churn things up but don’t have the stomach to do so in public. When that happens, as happened about six months ago (thus prompting the column), we in the newsroom have to ask ourselves why someone wants anonymity.
Honestly, there’s already enough contempt and duplicity online, especially in the Twitterverse, or Clutterverse, as I call it. We don’t need to add to it.
Whether it’s in Campbell River or beyond, the newspaper can play a role in trying to further dialogue and present information we at least try to verify.
It’s not always easy, and in my last newspaper break-up column, I pointed out to the RCMP, local government and other authorities that they need to work with us now more than ever, especially when it’s easier than ever to spread actual “fake news.” (Hmm, maybe people should think twice about sharing those memes on Facebook before checking the source.)
So, goodbye, Campbell River, it’s been nice…. I will be moving on, but the paper will still be here, and while the end product might look like the work of a handful of people, it really represents the efforts of an entire community, and that means you.
Don’t take it for granted.