Com­mu­nity edi­tor and re­porter Sueann Musick looks back on 25 years of telling Pic­tou County’s sto­ries,

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - Sueann Musick Sueann Musick has spent the last 25 years work­ing for The News. This is her fi­nal week work­ing at the pa­per.

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.

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