Small-town reporting

A large part of me wanted to avoid writing this, the goodbye editorial.
I’ve accepted a job as a legislative reporter for the Whitehorse Star and will be living north of 60 by the end of the month.
I’ve come to understand over the past nine months how frustrating for both the community and my colleagues at the Golden Star office it is when editorial staff come and leave so quickly. There is a certain amount of trust you have to give a reporter; in representing your point of view, your business, your event and even your family in a true and honest light — and in a 500 word article, to boot.

A large part of me wanted to avoid writing this, the goodbye editorial.

I’ve accepted a job as a legislative reporter for the Whitehorse Star and will be living north of 60 by the end of the month.

I’ve come to understand over the past nine months how frustrating for both the community and my colleagues at the Golden Star office it is when editorial staff come and leave so quickly. There is a certain amount of trust you have to give a reporter; in representing your point of view, your business, your event and even your family in a true and honest light — and in a 500 word article, to boot.

A reporter gives you fifteen minutes of their time and then attempts to tell your story to the whole community. If I think about that too much it makes me want to walk out the back door, grab a shovel and get a job digging holes; a job that I can finish, put my hands on my hips and say “boy, I dug that hole just right.”

Every article is sensitive, that’s something I’ve come to learn here at the Star. Even if it’s just a profile of an international student from the high school, a reporter has to think about every word they choose to best represent this student and their culture.

And then there are the bigger issues. One of the most challenging subjects was a Selkirk Power’s proposed Independent Power Project on Cupola, Ventego and Alder Creeks.

Watching the passion in the community when the environment and public resources are at stake was inspiring, but how do you find the truth in a story when both sides are telling you opposite things? And how do you represent a deep, community conflict without having a deep understanding of the issue?

So if reporters in a small town seem to be only touching the surface of issues or misquoting locals, then what’s the point of it all?

I think it comes down to the simple belief that these stories need to be told.

If there wasn’t a reporter in this town, running from the school to the police station to town hall, then who would tell us what is happening? How could we make decisions going into the future if we don’t know what’s happening right now?

When I started at the Star Janet said this job is “quick and dirty”, and she was right.

But I truly believe if a reporter asks the right, few questions they can get to the meat of the story quite quickly. Maybe it won’t be written in the most eloquent fashion and maybe there will be an embarrassing typo in the headline, but the story is out there for everyone to read.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

I’ll drive north for three days next week and hope my little Honda Civic has enough oomph to make it to Whitehorse. I’ll have a lot of time to sing to myself, and a lot of time to daydream about the Northern Lights and burly lumberjacks.

I’ll also have time to think back on my year in Golden, and what a year it was.

Thank you for making this community feel like home.