I WILL miss writing for the Guernsey Press. The satisfaction of a single, well-worked phrase can be enough to make the heart sing.
In more than three decades, I have written tens of thousands of articles. As a news reporter, business reporter and as deputy editor. Not all have made the heart sing.
As editor, that writing includes most of the leader columns of the past seven years. They all started with a blank screen and a blinking cursor, and in the process of being written many have shaped my own views on life.
This piece, though, is not about education, climate change, lifestyle or politics. It is about me.
Quality news journalism is rarely about the personal. It does not insert the journalist into the narrative. Instead, it presents the facts and invites the reader to draw their own conclusions. For me, the reporter is best as the quiet observer, notebook in hand, honestly and accurately recording events driven by others.
That impartiality and honesty has never been more important. Without a trusted, independent observer the fractures that are evident in our society will only get wider. Trusted information is the glue that holds together all parts of our wonderful island community.
Those who would control and disrupt the message are eager and willing to exploit those divisions and weaken that bond. That way, they can present ‘their truth’ without fear of strong rebuttal and the inconvenience of facts or history.
It suits some to portray the media as biased. Every slip of the tongue, every dubious action, can then be shrugged off as an invention of the duplicitous fourth estate.
I would argue against that, of course. And I would ask, what is the credible alternative to trusted mainstream media outlets such as the Guernsey Press, BBC, Island FM and Bailiwick Express?
Social media? The events of the last few weeks alone should be enough to show the folly of that.
The best politicians welcome openness, transparency – and even the odd bit of criticism. In an island with consensus government, where political parties are still in short trousers, the scrutiny of the media is essential as an honest, critical friend of good government.
People deserve to see the actions of their leaders dissected and analysed, with critics who offer a different view of the world invited to cast their eye over all the implications of what is proposed.
It might not be comfortable, and it might at times seem more personal than it is, but the role of the quiet, impartial observer is vital for the island’s democracy.
While journalism is not all about the reporter, the work of the Guernsey Press is all about people. The people we cover doing often extraordinary things for charity, or their parish, or for the good of us all. Let us not dwell on those who come to attention for doing the opposite.
And it is about the people who write the stories, take the photographs, edit the results, sell the adverts, print the papers and keep the whole enterprise watertight and running.
In that light, 31 years at the Guernsey Press is not a series of computer systems, corporate structures or even news articles, but a very human experience.
I remember that first newsroom, back in June 1989, with absolute clarity. A pod of four desks with the intimidating presence of Dan Courtney, Jo Moody (Delbridge), Mark Ogier and me, the new boy.
Mark is still at the Press – and that is not uncommon. Sports editor Rob Batiste, duty editor Dave Edmonds and general manager Darren Cooley have all been here long enough to make me still feel like the newcomer. You have to chalk up at least a quarter century to really get your feet under a GP desk.
I have had the privilege of working with countless such talented people in my time. People who could always be trusted to stay that extra few hours, work without complaint on bank holidays, often just for the satisfaction of doing the story justice. Being editor was a humbling experience.
All of which makes me sound like Methuselah, at the tender age of 54.
I have been proud to play my part in the transition of the newspaper I started at, from an august and unchallenged organ just coming to terms with the arrival of the computer age, to the multimedia organisation it now represents through its website, podcasts, videos and social media presence.
And I have been especially proud of all aspects of the Guernsey Press team during Covid-19, when normal production was thrown to the wind and the island was ravenous for all news of the pandemic.
Few industries have changed as much as this one in the last 30 years.
For all the challenges of the internet, in terms of audience and the importance of its message to our community the news organisation has never been stronger.
No doubt there is much more to come.
I wish the GP, and all those hundreds of good people I have worked with over the years, the very best of fortune. And I look forward to the next chapter of my life.