When I was hired at the Peace Arch News more than 18 years ago, it was a three-month contract.
Before arriving here, I had a permanent job at a small Northern Alberta newspaper, and I still remember Rob Demone, editor here at the time, asking me during my interview why on Earth I’d want to give up the security of a permanent job for one that could be over in 90 days.
“Have you ever been to Northern Alberta in the winter?” I asked.
Needless to say, that part of the country was not for me, a barely 23-year-old reporter who’d never lived more than four hours from the Lower Mainland before taking the job up north.
Taking a short-term gig was a risk I was willing to take, I told him. (Even if I was forced to re-apply for my own job three months later, which is a thing that happened and that I’m definitely not still bitter about, no sir.) And here I am, years later, about to take another risk.
In a few days, I will be leaving the Peace Arch News – a place that I’ve worked for nearly half my life.
Last January, when longtime production manager Jim Chmelyk passed away, I remarked to people that if there was ever a Mount Rushmore of the Peace Arch News, he’d be on it. And while I don’t hold myself in nearly that same regard, I sometimes feel as though I’ve become part of the furniture around here, and I think it’s time to take on some new challenges.
I’ve seen plenty of colleagues come and go since I’ve been here – with the exception of stalwart reporter Alex Browne, who it should be noted, would also be on PAN’s Rushmore, right up there with Jim (and the late Linda Klitch, too).
And as I’ve watched people come and go, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to leave myself, and what I might say on my way out. And here I am, after hundreds of editions of the paper, thousands of column inches and millions of words, and I still don’t know the answer.
All these years later, I’m finally at a loss for words. So I’ll just say this: It’s been a heckuva run, and working here has changed my life in ways beyond what I expected when I first walked in the door on May 3, 2004.
This job provided me savings to buy my first townhouse; it’s where I met former reporters Melissa Smalley, Kristyl Clark, Sarah Massah and Aaron Hinks, with whom I’ve made lasting friendships that extend beyond the newsroom.
This job is even responsible for my marriage; the aforementioned Clark is my wife’s best friend, and to the end of her days she will take credit for our relationship.
There’s also all people I’ve met in the community, of whom there are simply too many to list.
There are things I’ll miss, of course – the roar of the crowd at high-school basketball provincials; the Tour de White Rock; the hospitality suite at Ma Murray Newspaper awards; and the feeling you get when you file a story that you know no other news outlet has.
But as a former editor once told me when he left the industry, the things he knew he’d miss when he left were the things he’d already been missing by the end of his run; not to tread too heavily into ‘back in my day’ territory, but this job has changed so many times that it’s almost unrecognizable compared to the position I accepted all those years ago.
That said, the newsroom I’m leaving is in good hands. The people here are dedicated and talented, and will continue to provide the community with the news coverage it deserves.
Be nice to them – even you, angry emailer.
Thanks for everything. It’s been a good three months.
Nick Greenizan has been a reporter at Peace Arch News since 2004.