A new beginning - Shawn Loughlin editorial
As you’ll see in this week’s issue of The Citizen, we’ve hired a new reporter. Scott Stephenson has joined the team after Denny Scott decided that it was time for him to move on after over 12 years with us.
This whole process has been challenging, but it has also brought me back. It’s been a long time (about 16 and a half years) since The Citizen and all it does was new to me. To go through the interview process several times, explaining in detail the origin story of this newspaper and what makes it special, brought me back to the time when I first learned it.
The unique ownership structure and the way the newspaper is connected to the community is always a joy to talk about and I’m always amazed to find someone in the community who doesn’t necessarily know all about it. But really it just got me thinking about all that goes into learning a new job, a new community and a new way of life. It reminded me about some of the urban sensibilities that I brought with me as a brand new resident of Huron County (I was living in an apartment in Goderich at the time).
It reminded me about my first day at The Citizen, when I left Goderich for Blyth about 20 minutes or so sooner than I needed to, as I wanted to be prepared in case of traffic. It reminded me about standing in our old, old office (across the street in the home of what was until recently Stitches with a Twist) and asking how long it would take to drive to Memorial Hall. As I came up with some ideas for stories for Scott to help him hit the ground running, it really reminded me of a time when I was not nearly as connected to the community as I am now; back when I knew almost nobody and people would come up to me on the street and welcome me to town.
Now the roles have shifted after so many years and I’ll be the one who is directing someone else to the people he’ll need to talk to and get to know in his time ahead. Maybe not so surprisingly, in all that time, I’ve made a ton of contacts and know, for the most part, where to send Scott to find what he’ll be looking for and to get the answers he’ll need.
Speaking about the local councils he will now have to cover and going over the issues of the day, for example, has been eye-opening.
On my second day on the job, for example, all the way back in October of 2006, I covered a Huron East Council meeting. I had been to a local council meeting only once before and that was back in Pickering when my baseball team received an award from the Town of Pickering (before it achieved “City” status in 2000). It may not surprise you that we didn’t stay for the entirety of the proceedings.
Now, I’m likely one of the more well-versed local folks when it comes to local politics, which is only natural when it is a big part of your job.
Another thing I would learn is how accessible everyone here is (and was). One of my early assignments was to head to the aforementioned Memorial Hall and take pictures of a behind-the-scenes guided tour by then-Artistic Director Eric Coates. To begin the tour, Coates listed his many acting accomplishments, all of which I feverishly wrote down in my notes. And yet, as I would soon come to realize, I would be seeing Eric (and other accomplished Canadian actors) on the street just about every day, going about their lives as members of the community.
The Citizen has meant a lot to me for so many years. It has become part of my very identity in this community, so it’s nice to share that again now with someone new.