By Trevor Greenway
I’ve written a lot of tough articles for the Low Down – everything from murders and drownings to obituaries on prominent Hills folk and many a Rupert Fair.
But this week, I sit here at my half cleaned-out desk and toil in the trying task of scribing one of the toughest yet: saying goodbye to the many loyal readers of this fine and fantastic rag.
It’s not easy to say goodbye to the place you’ve called home for the past five years – the place you’ve grown from a naive Calgarian into a cultured Quebecer (who still hasn’t learned French). It’s the place where I’ve learned how to connect with a community – people I’ve come to be good friends with, people I’ve pissed off, people who have both criticized and praised my writing, but most importantly, people who’ve had amazing stories to tell.
I still remember the first story I was put on five years ago: covering Ryan Foley as he ripped around the race track in Edelweiss in his home-made race car. As I ran to the middle of the race track and snapped photos of the car zipping past me faster than my shutter speed, I recall feeling so proud to be working for the Low Down – I was proud then and I’m still proud today.
It’s true that the Low Down is a stepping-stone job for most serious young reporters. Scribes who learn how to tell a quality story typically move on to bigger media jobs in the city or elsewhere. And although I am also leaving for an opportunity of the same nature (Metro Ottawa), the Low Down has been so much more to me than just a training ground. It’s the place that, sort of, reinvented journalism for me. And I have my subjects to thank for that.
I never knew a pet crow could become such a hit on a front page of a newspaper, nor did I think a piece on a local cafe’s decision to cut sandwiches from its menu would become such a controversial issue. I never thought I would witness two men save a deer from drowning on the frozen waters of the Gatineau River, and I’ve been surprised on many occasions at how many people have just opened up to tell their stories without hesitation.
I’m talking about guys like Sandy Daviau, the multiple sclerosis patient, who allowed me to shoot photos of him smoking marijuana on his property after he was busted with copious amounts of pot; families like the Palmers, who shared the story of their daughter Charis and the struggles they faced growing up with a developmentally disabled child; or how about the national award-winning series the Low Down did on drinking and driving? Nearly everybody in the community was willing to talk about that boozy elephant in the room.
And that’s why the Low Down is and has always been such a great paper – because of the quirky, eccentric people the reporters get to write about.
But out of everyone, I owe the most to publisher and friend Nikki Mantell. She saw something in me five years ago that I don’t even think I saw in myself. She took a chance on me, and although I’ve made my share of mistakes, she’s always given me that second chance. She made me a better writer, a better photographer and I’ll miss being around her dedication to quality journalism.