Last week marked one year for me at Hamilton Community News and while the celebrations were muted (the bouncy castle guy cancelled at the last minute) it was cause for celebration nonetheless.
Twelve months ago our papers looked completely different. The design was stuck in the 90s and, while it served us well in its time, it was time for a change. I’m quite pleased with the results and proud that I had a hand in it, but the best part about the process were the comments from readers about the new look. Lots of folks loved it as much as I do, but we also received a lot of constructive criticism about the design and made a number of changes to address readers’ concerns. The fact that readers felt our papers were important enough to take the time to tell us how we could make them better reminded me that my main job is to act as a steward of our publications on behalf of our communities.
I’m proud of the work our editorial team has done over the last year. We’ve broken several important stories and set the agenda for the city’s other media on many others. (I’m not generally an über competitive person, but when it comes to having a story first or best everyone outside our newsroom is my mortal enemy.) We’ve won several provincial, national and international awards and produced news, features and photos of which I am justifiably proud.
I’ve also spent a fair bit of time meeting with readers and attending events in the areas we cover. In my job it’s too easy to get stuck behind a desk (’cause that’s where the work is) and to only interact with our communities through the pages of our papers. I don’t get out as often as I’d like, but when I do I enjoy it greatly and often find myself inspired by the best our communities have to offer.
I’ve also been quite lucky to have an outlet for my thoughts, foibles, adventures and musings — something I lacked at my previous papers. I’d done a column back in Alberta (and even won an award for it), but I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until I came to Hamilton. It can be daunting trying to find a topic that the public will find interesting and universal enough to invest their time in reading about, without being too broad (and therefore bland), too salacious (even columnists need to have some secrets) or too “who cares?” (because even my mum has her limits as to what she’ll read). I’d like to think that I’ve given regular column readers some things to think about and a few laughs along the way. (If I’m wrong I commend you for reading this far into a column that you’re not enjoying.)
Last August I wrote about how lucky I was to be working in Hamilton and to be a part of the great newspapers that make up Hamilton Community News. Since then, my admiration for our publications, the team behind them and our communities has grown exponentially. It’s a special privilege to get to do what I do and it’s one that I don’t take for granted.
Even without a bouncy castle.
— Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News