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Identifying the things that really matter

...You understand that people are what matter and that there are no “ordinary” people...

We emerged, grateful, from the 2017 Atlantic Journalism Awards event in St. John’s in early May with three prizes—two gold and one silver: not bad.

But the experience jogged an interesting memory.

In early 2003 we were interviewed by the Ryerson School Review of Journalism. The resulting article described our editorial content as “watered down” and “sweet but shallow”.

But this aspiring journalist clearly had decided what her article was going to say even before conducting her interviews and research. It was a rookie mistake.

We were unfavourably compared to Atlantic Insight magazine, an “award-winning” regional newsmagazine that “earned 13 writing awards”—well, 14 years and 52 awards for editorial excellence later we’d sure like to have them back for a follow-up interview.

This writer appeared to have decided we should have been a hard-hitting newsmagazine instead of offering nostalgia, history and culture, people profiles and food content.

Here’s what she missed—and all of you get:

On food content (not just recipes as the article implied)—it is our view that what you put in your body and in your kids’ bodies is rather more important than what some politician said yesterday that will be forgotten tomorrow.

(That is why, in 2010, we were invited to Rideau Hall to accept the Governor General’s Nation’s Table Award in recognition of our promotion of healthy eating and local food buying.)

You understand that our history and our culture are what we are, and you appreciate the importance of being regularly reminded about that.

You understand that people are what matter and that there are no “ordinary” people, just extraordinary people you haven’t learned about yet—because we all have a story.

You understand that the things that are most important to all of us reside in and around our homes—family, neighbours, pets, garden, yard, local wildlife—and are vastly more important to us than the latest political scandal.

You understand that building a new extension or renovating a beloved family cottage is far more meaningful to you than the latest economic indicators.

It’s instructive that while the large daily city newspapers are suffering through a readership and revenue crisis, small community weeklies are business as usual—because local community affairs matter to people infinitely more than the latest “world news.”

It is a simple truism that those things that touch us matter most to us…

And those things—are our specialty.

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay
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