It re­minded me how im­por­tant lo­cal news­pa­pers are to a com­mu­nity

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Sports -

I ar­rived in Clarenville on a cold win­ter night in De­cem­ber, 2012. One month be­fore I was liv­ing in Lon­don, UK, one of the world’s big­gest and busiest cities, and with my visa ex­pir­ing, I was happy to find a job in jour­nal­ism back home in New­found­land.

I had worked in Gan­der with the Bea­con years be­fore, so be­ing a com­mu­nity re­porter in a small town was noth­ing new to me. I moved into my Bayview Road apart­ment and was happy to dis­cover out my win­dow there was a sea­side view of the bay. I spent my first Fri­day night tak­ing pho­tos of the moon re­flect­ing off the wa­ter over Ran­dom Is­land. The lights from the homes on the is­land were just barely vis­i­ble over the sound.

Over the next few months I got to know Clarenville and the re­gion by talk­ing to its peo­ple – the fish­er­men, politi­cians, po­lice, teach­ers, stu­dents, re­tirees, cashiers, con­struc­tion work­ers, and who­ever else was will­ing to speak to a re­porter with pages to fill. The best way to learn about a town or city is to be a re­porter, be­cause you get to ask ques­tions you would never nor­mally ask peo­ple you would never nor­mally speak to.

Work­ing with the Packet re­minded me how im­por­tant lo­cal news­pa­pers are to a small com­mu­nity. If your com­mu­nity coun­cil is not do­ing what you want it to do, you can make your voice heard by con­tact­ing your lo­cal pa­per. There is no point in hav­ing elec­tions if the peo­ple elected aren’t re­spon­si­ble to the peo­ple who voted for them. It was re­ally sat­is­fy­ing to play a small part in mak­ing a com­mu­nity work. Then there were the friends I made and the times we had to­gether. Throw­ing the base­ball around at lunch break with Chris the sports re­porter, start­ing an open mic with Kevin, watch­ing the 2014 Olympic gold medal hockey game with Jonathan, talk­ing about New­found­land pol­i­tics with Barb. These were great times that made me happy to be there.

Ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. I came to the Packet pretty des­per­ate for what­ever kind of jour­nal­ism work I could get. Over the next two years I learned skills that made me a bet­ter pro­fes­sional, did a job I be­lieved in and made some mem­o­ries that I’ll keep with me for­ever.

Shawn Hay­ward

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