My first stories for Black Press were about spraying for gypsy moths, a provincewide nurses’ strike and a psychic fair.
I rolled into Ladysmith on a Thursday night, leaving a five-month hitch in Prince Rupert covering sports, and unpacked some bare necessities through the night and into the morning.
I reported to the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle office sometime around noon on Friday and was handed those three assignments, as well as a photo assignment the following day.
I didn’t really know what I was getting into, having reported almost exclusively on sports until then.
But that was that.
Ladysmith became my home.
I took over as editor about 18 months later and spent four years in that job, bounced to the Goldstream News Gazette for a couple years and then back up-Island to the News Bulletin. I’ve been here for going on six years, almost five as editor.
But as you read this, I have left working full-time in newspapers behind. My last day at the News Bulletin was Friday.
It’s been almost 14 years since I turned my little black pickup off the Island Highway into Ladysmith, my first real glimpse at the beautiful seaside town despite spending most of the past six years here in Nanaimo, attending classes at what was then Malaspina University-College.
Ironically, another graduate from my old high school posted some photos of our old school paper on Facebook just last week, one of which included my byline several times on the page.
It felt like rather fitting timing, seeing a reminder from the start of my newspapering career just as I was about to leave it behind.
I am leaving full-time newspaper work to switch to communications at the University of Victoria.
There are parts of this industry I won’t miss at all, and far more aspects – and people – that I will.
But after 14 years, it’s time to take on a new challenge and open some doors on potential new opportunities.
And in reality, I’ve accomplished most of the goals I set out with (other than maintaining a full head of hair).
I didn’t really set out with a plan, other than at first to just find a job with a university degree (Liberal Studies and English) that effectively qualified me to read and write, but once I found my niche, successes came rather easily.
My work, both individual and collective, won peer-judged awards; it enabled me to travel (just a little, a two-week trip reporting in Ghana); and I advanced from reporting and then editing at one of this company’s smallest papers, to editing one of its largest.
While I’m leaving the industry full-time to hop the fence to communications, I expect I’ll continue to find my way into newspapering, whether it’s freelancing, or on contract or just writing letters to the editor with some of my many and varied and at-times outlandish opinions.
Perhaps I’ll finally get around to doing some magazine writing also. Who knows?
I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the Bulletin – editors are often just like parents about the products they produce; even as we move on, we can’t help but check in and make sure things are going OK.
It’s not without some trepidation that I leave the Bulletin, Black Press and newspapers, not to mention the dozens of great people with whom I’ve worked, all of which have been a safe haven.
For now, it’s exciting to embark on this new challenge by heading back to university, even if it is to work, not attend classes.
I’ll get to talk to incredibly intelligent people every day who have fascinating stories to share with the world, and I’ll get to do some of that sharing.
Much like that Friday roughly 14 years ago, I leave the News Bulletin office not really knowing what lies ahead.
I’ll find out soon enough.