Two years, three months and nine days after my first day at the Agassiz Harrison Observer, I will be leaving the newspaper for the last time.
It is not an easy decision: I love covering the communities of Agassiz, Harrison, Seabird Island and Sts’ailes, and I love celebrating the achievements of the people who live here.
Since I have come back to the editor’s desk after my maternity leave, I have felt an even greater sense of responsibility to our readers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel strongly that local news plays a key role in understanding the pandemic and how it affects all of our lives. I can thank the Agassiz Harrison Observer readers for showing me what role a free community newspaper has in all of this.
Fast, to-the-minute news is important for getting a handle on things like vaccination schedules, changing restrictions and ever-evolving case counts.
These are the things that are available on the Agassiz Harrison Observer website, and on websites from other news organizations covering the Fraser Valley and beyond.
Many people access news through social media, Facebook in particular, and we do our best to make our social media feeds as informative as possible.
But although these things put the news at your fingertips whenever you want, they are not always available to everyone.
Whether it’s a senior who chooses to avoid the internet, or someone facing homelessness who doesn’t have a computer to check it on, websites don’t reach everyone.
They reach almost everyone, sure, but often exclude some of the most vulnerable, where accurate information can do the most good.
That is where free community newspapers come in.
Once a week, the Agassiz Harrison Observer is delivered to your home and the front of our office to make sure everyone has an opportunity to read the news.
Sure, some of it may be a few days old — that’s just what happens with a weekly paper — but it’s better than no news at all, or worse yet, hearsay.
For the past four years, I have worked in the newspaper business, and I have been honoured to make a product that is accessible to anyone who needs it. I hope that will continue to be the case for many years to come.
Many people say that print is dying — the cynics say that print is dead. Despite my years as a newspaper journalist, I find it hard to say for sure.
Times are tough for newspapers, but our readers are strong. The journalists are strong too, and the pandemic has shown just how much they are needed.
When I leave the Observer, I’ll still be covering Agassiz and Harrison, as well as other parts of the Fraser Valley. It’ll will be in a different way, and with different types of stories, but I am excited to tackle that next adventure.
But I will always have a piece of my heart with the newspapers.
I will not miss the stressful press deadlines, or the circulation complaints that come after every windy or rainy day. But I will miss knowing the support I am giving to people who may have been left behind by our ubiquitous drive to get online — and the support you all give me in return.
I hope you will keep reading the Agassiz Harrison Observer, and when you flip through, you will know how important those physical pages are.
I also hope you will support the next editor as much as you have welcomed and supported me.
-Grace Kennedy, editor