Community editor and reporter Sueann Musick looks back on 25 years of telling Pictou County’s stories,
So, I am doing something today I never had to do before.
I am buying my first newspaper subscription.
After 25 years of writing on just about every topic in Pictou County, I am leaving my job at The News for a new opportunity.
I came to The News fresh from journalism school and was hired after a few months of on-the-job training. I was about as naïve and green as you could get, but this job has toughened me up and served me well over the years.
Local writer and former reporter Monica Graham, who was kind enough to show me the ropes many times, told me once, “Reporting is a young person’s job.”
Let’s just say, I get it now, Monica.
This job has given me a deep understanding and appreciation for our community and all it has to offer. It has shown me the very worst and the very best people. It has made me frustrated, exasperated, teary-eyed, joyful and most importantly – proud.
I started working here in April 1993 full-time, when computers were only recently introduced, the internet was non-existent, landline phones were your only source of communication, film was still used in cameras and the printing press turned every day in the back of our building.
Then came technology. We saw it coming, but I don’t think we could realize the change it would make in our world. Work could be done anywhere, information could be posted without paying for it, people could communicate without ever talking to each other.
We have gained new ways to capture people’s attention through digital photos and videos and breaking news, but we lost somethings as well in the way we communicate.
There are people who I interviewed when I first started here that I still think about because their story or picture stayed with me for many years after we spoke.
Journalism is a job that involves building trust, finding the truth and keeping your opinions to yourself.
I still smile when I think back to the first time I met Merigomish resident Mary Gorman. She and I have done many stories over the years, but when I met her during a protest in a parking lot that day, she said to me, “What is your opinion on this?” to which I answered, “I don’t have an opinion from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
Mary didn’t like my answer and respectfully told me so, but she never asked me for my opinion again.
Today, the line between truth and half-truths is murky with social media, and it makes me fearful for the next generation, who are dependent upon getting their news from Facebook rather than buying a paper or clicking on a credible news site. We have become a gullible world where we believe everything that is told to us rather than questioning if what we are hearing is true.
I hope that people will continue to hold journalism at a higher standard, but I am not sure we will ever return to a time when people would say, “I read it in the paper” or “I heard it on the radio,” and you knew it was gospel to them. The world has changed. Journalism has changed. How you get your news has changed, but the power of the truth hasn’t changed.
For 25 years, my car headed over the Harvey A Veniot Causeway (yes, I still call it that because Judge Veniot corrected me once about a story I wrote in which I called it the Pictou causeway) to this building, where I worked with close to a 100 people when I first started here.
They are all my family. We had daily deadlines and each other’s back in good and bad times. I had an extended family as well in my community when reporters from other media outlets would gather at events and we would chat about what we knew and come up with some strange ideas on subjects.
You need to think outside the box on this job and it was always comforting to gather with people of like-mind, even if we were way off topic.
I am going to miss my chats with the sheriffs, lawyers, communication people, politicians, firefighters, police, my coffee shop buddies, students and everyday people who amazed with me with their generosity, kindness and strength.
A fellow Herald reporter reminded me once of how special this job is because we ask people to trust us with their most private moments, deepest fears and greatest joys so we can share their stories.
So, with that, Pictou County, thank you for letting me tell your stories. The privilege has been all mine.