ONE FI­NAL ED­I­TO­RIAL

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - The last word from Bill McGuire, The Guardian’s ed­i­to­rial/opin­ion page ed­i­tor, as he re­tires from the news­pa­per

How does one com­press al­most 44 years into about 725 words or so, for my fi­nal ed­i­to­rial? Let’s see. “Two score and four years ago . . .” No, that’s taken. Maybe there’s a book wait­ing. No, wait. My for­mer man­ag­ing ed­i­tor Gary MacDougall al­ready hogged that idea.

The time has come to say good­bye to a news­pa­per ca­reer that started at The Guardian on St. Pa­trick’s Day, March 17, 1975 . . . while wrap­ping up the jour­nal­ism course at Hol­land Col­lege. To say things have changed a great deal over those years would be the un­der­state­ment of this brief cen­tury. In 1975, we still had a press run­ning in the build­ing, hot lead was used to cre­ate lines of type, type­writ­ers were at ev­ery desk in a pop­u­lous news­room and smok­ers had heap­ing ash­trays at their work sta­tions.

If you can re­mem­ber those far­away days of hot lead, it’s time to re­tire and move aside, just like those ash­trays and type­writ­ers.

Rapidly evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy has rev­o­lu­tion­ized news­rooms and news­pa­pers. Get­ting a story and photo from in­ter­view onto the press that might in­volve 10-12 peo­ple, now in­volves 2-3. Ed­i­tors, re­porters, pho­tog­ra­phers, pag­i­na­tors, press­men etc. be­came ca­su­al­ties.

The ba­sic re­quire­ment for any jour­nal­ist in those early days was, ‘say it right and say it tight.’ It was pretty ba­sic stuff; type up a story and put it on the hook. Now, that same re­porter must tweet from the meeting, Face­book the high­lights, write a quick story for the web­site, a com­plete one for the pa­per, take a photo, shoot video, down­load it, slug them and then present the fin­ished prod­uct to im­pa­tient ed­i­tors wait­ing to slot it for ear­lier and ear­lier dead­lines. Whew!

When Roseanne Mac­don­ald re­tired in mid-2013, af­ter 22 years or so as ed­i­to­rial page ed­i­tor, I hes­i­tated over the of­fer to move from news ed­i­tor into her po­si­tion. Hav­ing three very po­lit­i­cally-ac­tive broth­ers made the de­ci­sion some­what dicey be­cause you knew any story or com­ment would come un­der close scru­tiny. Be fair, and damn the tor­pe­does.

I take some pride in not hav­ing a sick day in over 28 years -- ever since 1990 re­con­struc­tive knee surgery. Per­haps my lucky for­tune comes from grow­ing up on a busy farm in Morell or that good, clean Kings County air.

Re­tire­ment came sud­denly. The op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self this week and it was over. For that, I ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­forts of our re­gional pres­i­dent David MacKen­zie and man­ag­ing ed­i­tor Wayne Thi­bodeau. My de­par­ture will cause sched­ul­ing prob­lems for Wayne and news ed­i­tor Jo­ce­lyne Lloyd, and I don’t envy them the added chal­lenges they face in this con­stantly evolv­ing news­room.

I’m still try­ing to ab­sorb it all, but the 5:27 a.m. week­day alarm will be shut off. Meeting dead­lines for edi­to­ri­als, let­ters, opin­ions and pages ended Thurs­day. Liv­ing with daily, and in­creas­ingly tighter dead­lines is over.

It was al­ways a rush break­ing a story to beat the com­pe­ti­tion or writ­ing a hard-hit­ting ed­i­to­rial. Tak­ing the opin­ions of our ed­i­to­rial board and meld­ing them into a hope­fully-co­her­ent ar­ti­cle was a daily chal­lenge. And if an ed­i­to­rial made Is­lan­ders think, dis­cuss, ar­gue, or just say that McGuire is nuts, then the re­sult is sat­is­fy­ing. Pub­lic dis­course is the bedrock of our democ­racy.

My news­pa­per ca­reer came with daily sur­prises and chal­lenges over many lo­ca­tions. There were stops in news bu­reaus in Mon­tague and Sum­mer­side; 12 years as sports ed­i­tor; ed­i­tor po­si­tions in Truro and Syd­ney; and var­i­ous ed­i­to­rial jobs in Char­lot­te­town. There was rarely a dull mo­ment. I met a lot of peo­ple and made many friends along the way. Thanks to ev­ery­one for your help.

Is­lan­ders need de­pend­able news or­ga­ni­za­tions to com­bat po­lit­i­cal spin, fake news and un­cen­sored so­cial me­dia. The Guardian re­mains a bas­tion you can de­pend on. It’s in good hands. Will news­pa­pers sur­vive. I’m sure they will. Change is the only con­stant but truth is para­mount.

It was sat­is­fy­ing help­ing a young jour­nal­ist get into the busi­ness and as­sist­ing them with their ca­reers: Mike Gau­thier, Teresa Wright and Mitch Mac­Don­ald in Char­lot­te­town; Arash Madani, Brad Works, Joey Smith and Ja­son Mal­loy in Truro; Philip Croucher and Laura Jean Grant in Cape Bre­ton come to mind. But there are many oth­ers, some young and oth­ers more griz­zled like yours truly. Many, often earned nick­names along the way . . . Stay in touch.

And where there were only 95 rounds of golf played in 2018, that thresh­old should fall in 2019. Eas­ily. Maybe I’ll grow a beard. I al­ready for­got to shave this morn­ing. Oops.

Hope­fully, new op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges await. See you on the golf course, or un­til then, at the curling rink.

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