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Twelve years, 300 columns … one grateful scribe
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
- Michael Altshuler
And just like that, it was over.
Forty-three years ago, I enrolled in a journalism program at Holland College.
Ever since, the news has been a huge part of my life, from laying out pages and working as a reporter, photographer, managing editor, instructor and, finally, as a columnist.
But with this, the final instalment of my bi-weekly column for The Guardian, I find myself out of the news business for the first time since I was a teenager.
Last summer, I retired after 23 years as an instructor in the program I graduated from in 1978. However, I continued to write my column, penning more than 300 over the past 12 years. But, as I told Guardian editor Jocelyne Lloyd last week, I feel now is the right time to make way for some new voices and viewpoints on this page.
It’s been an extraordinary privilege.
Since accepting then-editor Gary MacDougall’s offer to write a column in 2008, I’ve opined on everything from suicide and schoolyard bullies to graffiti and gun control, euthanasia and organ transplantation to distracted driving and road rage, politics to Popes, and more.
Columnists crave feedback and over the years, I’ve gotten a good mix of positive and constructively critical comments. Thank you, dear readers, for that. One I cherish came from the parents of a Humboldt Broncos junior hockey player who was killed in a bus crash in Alberta two years ago. Weeks before he died, Logan Boulet signed an organ donor card. As a result, his organs were donated to six people. His story resulted in a huge rise in organ donations across Canada and, in my own family, it prompted a discussion about end-of-life decisions, so I wrote about it.
Logan’s father sent me an email several weeks later.
“I need you to know that your column resonated exactly what we want … [to bring] the difficult discussion of death — organ donation — to the kitchen tables of Canada,” Toby Boulet wrote. “ … I want you to know you touched my family when we were hurting and lost.”
As I said, all feedback is welcome but some you hold more closely.
Op-ed pages are here for everyone. Through letters to the editor or guest opinions, you can offer your own insights and continue the conversations that are such an important part of our free press and, ultimately, of our democracy.
Newspapers continue to evolve. I believe they’ll always be with us in one format or another so that, in today’s climate of fake news and disinformation, readers will have access to stories they can rely on written by professionals they can trust.
You’ll find journalists like that at both Island dailies. I know that because, at one time or another, many of them were in my class. Brad Works, Colin MacLean, Millicent McKay and Alison Jenkins form the backbone of the Journal Pioneer’s newsroom. At The Guardian, Jason Malloy, Ryan Ross, Stephen Brun, Katie Smith, Maureen Coulter, Ernesto Carranza and Daniel Brown help make up a team of dedicated journalists who continue to Cover the Island like the Dew.
While my days in the news business are winding down, I’ll always be an avid news consumer. These days, I keep busy catching up on far-too-long-neglected home renovations and dabbling in other projects, like writing fiction (much tougher than I thought) and art for amateurs.
My wife, Sheri, and I have also been blessed with five grandchildren, aged 2-6, all living close enough to properly spoil … which we do, shamelessly.
Finally, to the readers who have joined me every other Saturday for the past dozen years — sincere thanks for all your feedback and support.
Wayne Young has worked for both The Guardian and The Journal Pioneer, and is a retired instructor of the journalism program at Holland College.