Friday, Jan. 13th, will be a good day for Garry Irving. Rather than the traditional expectation that goes with a ‘Friday the 13th’, it will be the first day of the rest of his life. He’s retiring, after serving the local news industry for nearly three decades.
As reporters and editors come and go so quickly over the years, Garry has quietly observed the movers and shakers of the greater Golden area. He is, without a doubt, the only person in Golden’s history that has served this many years in the local market in both radio and newspaper.
I suppose when one considers retirement, it’s an exercise in reflection. Whether writing stories for radio or newspaper, and I suspect the challenges are similar, his career would very well read like a well-stocked Facebook page, complete with photos, stories, and tidbits of trivia about people that have either lived the majority of their lives here, or simply come and gone from the area. There would also be photos of military aircraft, a personal favourite of his, and trains of course, with a special interest in Canadian Pacific’s 2816, the last of the rolling stock of steam locomotives. I can remember him being especially delighted when the 2816 would come to town, and I would wonder ‘what the heck is a 2816?’ (Incidentally, it’s the same locomotive depicted in the Art Gallery of Golden’s recent poster series, and was also featured on the invitation and poster for the Civic Centre re-opening.) There would also be stories on businesses, organizations, politicians, and so on. So many stories.
There are many that would know him best by voice, as he and Dallas Matheson have been the local personalities for the E-Z-Rock morning show these last eight years or so. A recognized and respected journalist, I worked directly with Garry for about six years, and here are a few things that I learned personally from him.
• The importance of getting it right. Regardless of whether you’re in a competitive market or not, get your facts straight, rather than simply getting it first. Don’t get me wrong, there’s huge value in scooping the competition, but you’ll be a fool if you put the story out too quickly, and have the most important stuff wrong.
• It’s ok to ask if you have it right. It’s called editorial privilege, and should occur when the story is especially sensitive, or perhaps overly technical. Journalists are often tasked with taking a very complex issue, and explaining it in general terms so we can all understand it. Think taxation.
• Respect the people in your story. Develop trust. Be accountable. Things happen to people and they find themselves in a news story, sometimes good news and sometimes not-so-good. It can be a difficult situation to navigate, people will respect you if you treat them fairly. I think it’s especially important in a small market like Golden, where the people you are reporting on will be the person you meet in the tomato soup aisle at the grocery store, or the person next to you at a concert or town hall meeting.
• It’s all right to make mistakes, but it’s what you learn from those mistakes that’s really important. It can define who you are. Don’t be afraid to apologize, and don’t wait too long to do it. You’ll be a better person for it.
All in all, Garry was unapologetic about reporting the news, it was his job and he took it seriously.
Stop in at the radio station between 9 – 11 a.m. this Friday to wish him well.
Happy retirement Garry. Well deserved. (It’s not very often I would get the last word on Garry, but think I might have in this case.)