As the late Jerry Garcia once put it, “what a long, strange trip it’s been.” And no, I’m not talking about a Deadhead revivalist concert, but the tenure us staff have had here at The Morning Star.
It’s been a time of reflection for all of us as we prepare for a milestone in the paper’s history — our silver anniversary.
It was June 12, 1988 when the first edition of The Morning Star came off the press.
Looking at old photographs and stories in our archives (stored as paper and negatives for the first decade and in digital format for the past decade), the nostalgia, and really bad hair styles, has had me thinking of why I continue in this business, and why I still call Vernon my home.
You see, I was only supposed to be here for four months.
My first job in newspapers was as a photojournalist back in Ontario as well as on Vancouver Island, but in 1999 I decided to go back to school and study writing full time.
I arrived at The Morning Star a year later from the University of Victoria as a keen co-op student.
That summer sold me on the North Okanagan.
Not only did I get to rapel down the cliffs at Ellison Provincial Park, and write about it, I was also sent up in a Buffalo airplane, where I was strapped to the side of the craft, leaning over the edge of the deck to photograph the SkyHawks Canadian Forces parachute team as they jumped out.
As they fell towards the verdant green and blue vistas of Okanagan Lake and the surrounding hills below, I felt a strange peace despite my stomach telling me otherwise.
Come to think of it, I think my boss, editor Glenn Mitchell, was using me as fresh bait back then, but it didn’t scare me off from the feeling that I’d found home.
At the end of the summer, when the then entertainment editor decided to head to different pastures, I was asked if I wanted to stay.
And here I remain.
I not only have an unfailing attachment to this community, I have one to this newspaper.
If you need to know what’s happening with local government, your neighbours, your kids’ sports team, who needs help, and about all those concerts and theatre productions (hey, I have to toot my own horn as the entertainment editor), you know where to turn.
Now 25 years may not seem like a long time to have much of an impact, but when you think what has happened over those past two decades, and how much we have changed and evolved as a society, it boggles the mind.
Not only have computers changed how we do just about everything, we now get our news through many sources.
It’s a question of who can you trust. Which medium delivers the message you want to read? Where can I get the best information on the matters that involve me and my neighbours?
The Morning Star, and community papers in general, still offer an outlet where you can read the news without having to recharge a battery — or batter your eyes with too much screen time. But we’ve also had to evolve with the times, so you can read us online too.
And don’t get me started on how we’ve had to change as journalists — in the way we write, take and process photos, lay out pages, and even think.
Yes, 25 years can seem like a century when it comes to this business, but I am so glad that 13 years ago, I was asked to make a commitment to one of them.
So to The Morning Star staff and this community, I say thanks for putting up with me for at least half of this paper’s lifetime.
There will be a lot of reminiscing as The Morning Star puts out its immense anniversary edition — thanks to our advertisers — on Sunday. I’m sure you’ll be walking down memory lane, and laughing at the really bad hair styles with me.