Editorial - Three years in the making, and more to come

Dianne St. Jean
I can hardly believe that three years have passed since I took on the challenge of something I had never done before – running a newspaper.

I became owner and publisher and editor and writer for The Valley Sentinel on Sept. 1, 2014. And while I have always been a writer, the world of journalism – especially being the one overseeing it - carries with it a particular demand on one’s time and life.
Deadlines don’t wait for writer’s block or writer’s cramp (now more likely carpel tunnel syndrome due to keyboard overuse) to go away.
Journalism is one of the toughest jobs or businesses one can undertake, and, based on what I see now from this perspective, while it can be one of the most misused means of communication, it can also be one of the most misjudged.
The articles and columns that are read by the public are the outcome of information and experiences of others that are put together by the writer. The challenge of the journalist is to gather that information and properly represent those experiences. However, even with best effort, an article is often only as good as the information received.
I found this a real challenge when I first took on The Valley Sentinel. I had lived in Valemount less than a year and knew a limited number of people. I had to get to know who was who and what, and what information was reliable.
Another challenge for those who produce newspapers is the practicalities of publishing itself.
At times people will give me information on a subject, and I have full intentions to use it. Then, and in the newspaper business, often suddenly or last minute, some other story or event happens that takes precedence, and what you had good intentions to put into the paper has to get bumped, either because of space limitation or because the other item is more time-sensitive or relevant.
“Well why can’t you just add in another page?” Uh – no. There is no such thing in printing a newspaper as just one or even two more pages. Open a newspaper, and you will see that each flat actually constitutes four pages. So even if you can fill another page, you will still need to fill the other three.
And while we’re on the topic of printing pages, it’s pretty pricey to go colour, and while you can put black and white material on a page designated for colour, you can’t just “add extra colour” on pages designated for black and white – again, unless you order that from your printer and have to purchase more than just the one extra page for colour.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. My intention is to point out that it is very easy to make assumptions about the outcome of what others do if you are not aware of all the stuff that goes on in the background; and while that can be applied to any type of work, because of the nature of the business, the world of journalism tends to be more scrutinized.
Being a very recent resident here also meant I had to find what the public here likes to read, so we tried different things. Some flopped, and others, though well received, were not practical in their upkeep.
And while local news is obviously important, I want to present things that people may have never considered or experienced before, or that, though not locally based, still affect our lives.
Thank you, all you readers, who email or message me, or who I run into on the street and tell me that you’re liking the paper more and more. I really appreciate that. That is not to say that we have arrived. In life, regardless of who we are and what we do for a living, there is always room for improvement, and I will continue to strive for that.
I also want to especially thank those who work with me - my awesome regular contributors Allan, Marie, Courtney, Leon, Leonard, Eleanor, Birgit – and everyone who contributes articles, information, or time. And certainly can’t forget Rick who faithfully makes the long early morning drive to pick up the papers so they can be here on time. Can’t do it without you!
And not enough can be said about my husband Dale - who gives me such awesome support and does so, so much for me; and my production gal Tamara, who takes on so much work and also has to put up with me venting off when I get frustrated. THANK YOU! I could not do this job without you both.
And thank you Valemount and McBride. I want to give you and outside readers a good product that looks classy, that you can be proud of to represent you, and that people enjoy reading.
More than that, I hope our work through The Valley Sentinel has sown seeds of betterment and positivity in our communities.
It’s been quite the three years, and there’s more to come!