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1 Oct 2016 Final.pdf

Vol.102 Issue 10


Time and tide

From the days when I first cut my teeth in the publishing business while working on my high school newspaper back in the 1960s, we were told by our staff supervisor to put the notation “-30-” at the end of a story. Nobody really cared very much as to the why and wherefore; we were all too young and excited to be working on a newspaper to give a hoot.

Jump to the present, and one day while proofreading a few months ago, the -30- seemed to jump off the page at me, so I finally decided to determine the origin of that notation that had been part of my life for almost a half century. About time.

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary of Media and Communications, “the symbol may have come from the use by telegraphers of three X’s, also the Roman numeral for 30, to signify the end of a dispatch. The first press dispatches from American Civil War battlefields ended with -30-, by then the standard signoff. The symbol also may have stood for the amount of time during which reporters were allowed to use the military-controlled telegraph lines during the Civil War. The “30” at the end of the dispatch told telegraphers at the receiving end that the dispatch was completed and that time was up.”

Indeed, now my time at Country Life in BC is up, too.

Time and tide have taken their toll, and the time is right for me (and for Country Life In BC) to make a graceful exit from this 102 year-old publication.

However, it’s not easy to walk away from something that you really love.

When I first answered an ad and was hired on at this paper in 1996, it was, bluntly, a job – nothing more. But then, after months and years of immersion in the business of farm media, the more I read, the more interesting it became. After living in the city my whole life, who knew such a vast farm press existed – a new world of agricultural information, politics, innovation and history?

Naturally, when the opportunity arose in early 2000 to take over the helm of the paper from ailing publisher Malcolm Young, it was a no-brainer – damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

At that juncture in time, (without trying to be overly dramatic), this paper was on the precipice, in danger of dying an ignoble death. I believed this newspaper didn’t warrant going out with a whimper – that this publication deserved to be revitalized and become even more relevant to the farming community. Readership faith had been rattled and advertisers were quietly seeking greener pastures.

So, by rolling up my sleeves (and rolling out the chequebook), I embarked on a very remarkable adventure.

The survival of the paper was rather dicey at first, but it weathered the storm, thanks in large part to the contributions of David Schmidt and Cathy Glover.

The bottom line is that the reader must have a strong reason to be drawn to a newspaper. Therefore, credibility is crucial. In turn, this confidence convinces advertisers to speak to their customers through the paper; a self-perpetuating cycle.

Therefore, I thank you, the loyal readers and the hundreds of advertisers, who allowed Country Life in BC into their homes to inform, raise challenging questions, provide insights and at times, entertain. To achieve this, there have been many talented people who have graced these pages, far too many to be mentioned in this space.

However, I would like to express my thanks to our current core crop of writers, contributors and columnists. I will start with the latter: Laura Rance, Liz Twan, Linda Wegner, Jo Sleigh, Judie Steeves, Margaret Evans and Bob Collins.

Special mention must be made for Bob. He came to the publication around 20 years ago and is still going strong. With his sly, Mark Twain-like observations on rural life, Bob has entertained readers for years with his Woodshed Chronicles. At the same time, his monthly page four Back 40 column has raised the level of discourse with his valuable insights on farming.

The current nucleus of writers consisting of Ronda Payne, Tom Walker, Tamara Leigh and Peter Mitham need to be recognized.

Special mention must also be made here for Peter Mitham. He began writing for this paper over a decade ago and with his quiet reliability, has provided us with solid reporting and understanding of agriculture issues.

And not to forget Lisa Bealle who toiled behind the scences, making sure all the subscription info was kept up to date Thank you.

Now for the important news and a big thank you: Cathy Glover will be taking over the reins effective with the November edition. She has contributed to Country Life in BC for over 20 years, working in sales, marketing and editorial. Her network of relationships within the agricultural sector in this province has allowed us to thrive and shine. Her expertise and determination will bring renewed energy. More than ever, BC agriculture needs an independent and trustworthy news publication. There is no question that Cathy will carry on Country Life in BC’s proud tradition. I leave this paper in capable, skilled and trusty hands.

Which brings me to David Schmidt. After more than 30 years with the paper, his name has become synonymous with the Country Life in BC brand. I have jested with him for years that he has forgotten more about agriculture than I could ever know. But it is no joke. Considered the dean of BC farm writers, his shrewd issue analysis and ability to get to the core of the story is second to none. For decades his reporting has assured the validity of this publication.

Last, but certainly not least, I thank my wife, Linda, without whom none of this could have been possible. Her thoughtful suggestions, creativity and unflinching support have made this journey as compelling as the destination.