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Stray Casts

by David Meyer

Final lines: Its been great

My colleagues wanted a final Stray Casts column.

Having never written what is called “tight” in this trade, it is difficult to sum up a third of my life in Wellington County and 35 years in the news business, but I loved every minute. There are memories: The rebuilding of the Elora town hall, now head office of Centre Wellington; the public meeting over the slots that attracted close to 1,500 people; amalgamation battles; and many, many elections. I appreciate people’s passion for their community.

There was the Grand River turned by volunteers into a multi-million dollar fishery. I hope residents always treasure and guard it.

There have been other thrills. Jumping out of an airplane at 3,000 feet for a skydiving article, travelling to Europe’s NATO bases, covering sports in Vancouver and Val d’Or Quebec, not to mention all over Ontario, and writing a front page article about a tornado as facts came in from our reporter, who was watching it near her home - just minutes from deadline - while editor Dave Adsett tore down the front page. Getting court results on an election scandal for another front page, and writing it minutes from deadline with colleagues looking over my shoulders and correcting typos was another thrill.

The first articles we wrote were in pen and ink, and then by manual typewriters. At journalism school, professors told us editors might demand we finish a paragraph, and then grab it for editing. That happened - once. An editor took my first page, edited it, took my second page, handed the first to a typesetter, and started editing - while I finished the article. It left me exhilarated. We now use computers, but I have never cussed out a typewriter like I do today’s machines when they falter.

It was gratifying to be part of a news team that won the Michener award for public service in journalism, but producing a good newspaper has always been its own reward.

Through the years, the best part has been people. There are hundreds to thank, starting with everyone who cooperated when I sought information.

I particularly thank the Advertiser’s publisher Bill Adsett and editor Dave Adsett. Bill hired me as a rock and roll columnist in the 1980s when I started freelancing. Dave had lots of plans for the Wellington Advertiser when he hired me in 1996 after the Elora Sentinel died. We worked, laughed, plotted, discussed and debated possibilities and I believe the Advertiser is very close now to what he envisioned it could be 16 years ago.

But things change. It is time for new people to take the load. The Advertiser will continue to evolve and that is necessary - with more focus on new media - but always with a view to keeping readers informed. Dave and I agree newspapers were important years ago, and will continue to be a force in the community. The web sites and electronic media trends that have come and gone over the past decade are ample proof of new technology’s struggles to get established.

Finally, I thank my colleagues in the newsroom for putting up with my rants and loud voice all these years. In the old days, everyone yelled because of the clatter of typewriters. I never learned to lower my tone. I have worked and joked with many great people and can say the staff Dave has assembled here is tops. The newsroom  even tolerates my hatred of exclamation marks (always a sign of bad writing) in news copy. All the newsrooms I have worked in are reminiscent of a M*A*S*H Unit, where we laugh and joke - often to keep from crying. It has been a pleasure working for and with so many great people over the years, and in particularly Chris Daponte, Mike Robinson, and cubicle neighbour Kelly Waterhouse.

The past few months have been hectic. My wife, Anna, whom I first met covering a public zoning meeting (where else?) has been offered a job in Chatham and been living there during the week. As this issue hits the street, we expect the purchase of our new home will be done. I will retire, sort of, but the kids and I will be here until Hellene’s and Matt’s baseball season is done in August. Then it is off to start a new life. In the past month, I have felt like I won the lottery. I wish everyone well and farewell. We will visit home here - and we are hoping friends travelling west will drop by.

To complete the transition from pen to typewriter to computer, I have asked permission to use the old sign off that for years told the editor the story had come to an end - as this part of my life has. Old time reporters and editors will instantly recognize it.



Vol 45 Issue 26


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