COLUMN: Stepping into a rather large pair of shoes

The card and certificate arrived at the end of December – sent as an acknowledgment of 20 years of service with Black Press Media.

It was a nice gesture on the part of my employers, especially coming at the end of a year filled with some pretty significant changes. What made the delivery feel a bit surreal, though, was that it arrived on my first day on the job.

Allow me to explain.

Dec. 27 marked my first official day of work here on the Peninsula as editor of the Peace Arch News, following the departure of longtime editor Lance Peverley.

In addition to an office that sits at a consistent 80 degrees and a drawer filled with pens that no longer work, I have inherited from Lance a rather large pair of shoes to fill and (luckily) an incredibly talented team of reporters to help me do that.

It’s an exciting challenge and one that I welcome, but the move has been somewhat bittersweet, because it meant saying goodbye to a community that has been close to my heart for the past two decades.

For just over 20 years, I worked at another Black Press Media publication – the Langley Times – where I started out as the junior reporter in a seven-person newsroom.

When I began at the Times in May 1998, I was (almost) fresh out of journalism school. I’d spent my inaugural year cutting my teeth in a one-person editorial department in northern B.C. before moving south to work in what was, by comparison, a bustling newsroom.

During my time in Langley, I was lucky enough to be mentored by a skilled team of senior reporters, a dedicated photographer and an editor who liked to stir things up whenever the opportunity presented itself.

As each retired or left to pursue other opportunities, new reporters came and went and my role in the newsroom gradually evolved from mentee to mentor.

In July 2015, I took on the role of editor, following (PAN columnist) Frank Bucholtz’ retirement (from the day-to-day aspects of the business, at least).

Along the way, I’ve been privileged to work with some of the most dedicated and talented journalists one could hope to meet and have gleaned valuable knowledge and skills from each of them.

Much of my development, however, first as a reporter, then as editor, has come about thanks to the community itself. Langley readers have never been shy about offering feedback on the stories the paper has chosen to cover (or not cover) and the way we’ve gone about doing it. And that’s a good thing.

The advent of social media has, of course, taken communication between the public and the press to a whole new level, with the handwritten letters to the editor that once arrived each week by mail giving way to daily emailed missives (where dried-up pens cease to be an issue) and minute-by-minute comments on Facebook.

I’m confident that Langley readers will continue to be well-served by the dedicated staff of their local paper and that they’ll keep writing, as proof of their investment in community news.

I know the same is true here on the Peninsula, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the days to come.

Brenda Anderson is the new editor of the Peace Arch News.

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