I first began my career in journalism working for my hometown paper, the Niagara Advance (RIP). I was not a reporter, nor a photographer. No, my role was far more distinguished: I was a paperboy.
Each Saturday morning (okay, full disclosure: depending on how lazy I was feeling, it was sometimes Sunday), I dragged my twelve-year old self out of bed, loaded up my red wagon with that week’s issue, then pulled it around my neighbourhood, delivering the news door-to-door. I received a flat rate for my service, and one day I got out a pencil and paper and did a bit of basic arithmetic to discover I was being compensated roughly half a penny per paper. Not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme.
Nevertheless, I pressed on, committed to the noble cause (okay, full disclosure once again: there were simply no other forms of employment for a kid my age). Sure, I may have called it quits if I’d sensed there was gold in any other hills, but however altruistic my intentions may or may not have been, the gig did teach me a valuable lesson. As bitter as I was at the lowly financial benefits my role offered, I quickly realized how significant my work was to others: to Mr. Stewart on the corner of Addison & Chautauqua, who eagerly ripped each new copy from my hands to glance at the garage sale listings; to the woman on Shakespeare Ave. with the wildly overgrown garden, who just as eagerly awaited the obituaries (I found this morbid then, moreso now); and to all the other readers who gratefully flipped through the pages to catch up on the latest news, happenings and goings-on around town.
Because of them, I came to appreciate how important a local newspaper is.
I believe a local newspaper does not just simply relay information. It does that, certainly. And that’s very important. But its greatest worth lies in the fact that a local newspaper can also do so much more: when created with a certain care, passion and enthusiasm, it can also build, nurture and help sustain a community.
It is with such a belief in my heart that I have tried to serve The Brunswickan’s readers. Throughout my stint as Arts Editor this year, I have tried to use this publication—both our online and print incarnations—to tell stories that promote a “community.” In some cases, this refers to the campus community: I attempted to uncover secrets of the library in the hopes that people might appreciate the building in a new way, for instance; I wrote about concerts and lectures happening here on the hill so that people might become participants themselves, and thus help further this community’s growth. In other cases, this refers to the larger Fredericton community: whether it be The Capital Complex or Pleasures N’ Treasures, I wanted to highlight the key venues in and around this city that make Fredericton a unique and special place to live. Sometimes, by highlighting an event like Bottomless Bingo, I even hoped to contribute to communities that transcend geographical constraints.
Of course, in some respects, this mission had its shortcomings. My natural curiosity and passion for rock n roll led me to focus a great deal on the downtown music scene throughout the year, and though I feel fortunate to have met and discovered many wonderful musical artists (as I write this, I’m listening to The Hypochondriacs’ album “In ¾,” a record whose release show was perhaps the event I most enjoyed covering), I can’t help but feel I let down certain other sectors of Fredericton’s vibrant art community: for instance, I could’ve done more to promote the city’s visual art, film and food. For failing such areas, I sincerely apologize.
Yet this inability to cover everything that deserves coverage mostly reveals the overwhelming difficulty of fostering a community—a difficulty made greater by the fact that “community building” is a perpetually ongoing process. So now it is time I turn to you, dear readers, and express my hope that you will continue this mission. My time with The Brunswickan is now complete, but the building, nurturing and sustainment of the community naturally continues. And a community is nothing without people willing to keep it vibrant, interesting, alive. So please: in whatever way you can, contribute to this community. Continue to make this city and this school campus a great place to be.
But before I leave you with such a request, I must, of course, say thank you. To anyone who has flipped through a copy of our monthly magazine or scrolled through an online article: thank you. It has been an honour to work alongside this wonderful staff to bring you this year’s content, and as much as I believe a community benefits from a newspaper, I must humbly recognize that a newspaper is nothing without a community willing to read it. So, from the bottom of my pen, let me say: thank you. I’d do it all again—even for half a penny.