By Wayne Litke
If you were busy last week and did not read page 4 of the Maple Creek News, I would suggest revisiting that page. It is interesting because it contains two very different columns: one by reporter Marcia Love and the other by Christalee Froese. Both are interesting and shed light on two internal processes. Marcia’s column, What’s In A Career, addresses what it takes to enjoy the worst possible job and Christalee discuses 13 points in her editorial titled How To Kill A Community that will ensure a town declines and self destructs.
I like both columns because they focus on what it takes to make the most of a situation that is less than ideal. The 13 points Christalee mentions are actually from an MLA’s speech and I believe it was presented from a negative perspective because that is how we often view our challenges. We tend to grumble and complain as we look at aspects of our community that need improvement. I believe we do that because it is easy, it’s a habit and we can easily pass it on like sickness, similar to a cold or flu bug that can quickly infect a population. I don’t think most of us are intentionally negative, it’s simply a habit that has been ingrained into our lives and it takes effort and conscious thought to be positive and find solutions. To get started on that process, a person can take the MLA’s points and convert them from a negative to a positive and that will start the process of empowering a community and its people.
I believe some towns have already embraced that initiative, while others have reverted or fallen victim to such a mindset. However, it’s never too late to make our world a better place.
Getting back to last week’s editorials, Marcia wrote about the reasons she enjoys being a newspaper reporter which is the least desirable job according to the Jobs Rated Almanac. She describes the rewards of reporting and does not focus on the negative aspects such as after-hours and weekend work, being open to criticism from anyone who disagrees with a story or comment, and reporting on tragic events while being sensitive to all individuals involved. It’s not an easy task. However, Marcia did not play the sympathy card, but opted to explain to folks that it is the challenges of the job, the variety of work and continually learning and gaining knowledge that are truly rewarding in her profession. She has truly learned to look past negative aspects of her job (most days) and instead derives satisfaction and fulfilment from the positive components of work.
I need to do that more myself and I was reminded of that yesterday when our email service at work died. I was not a happy camper. I let everyone in the office know I was irritated, especially when their email was restored, but mine remained totally unresponsive. Technology is awesome when it works as it was designed and is used for the correct purpose. However, when it fails or is used for evil and devious activities, it is maddening. It was absolutely tragic and very, very wrong for a multiple-murderer to send a text message and photos of the dead victims to their father. The fact that it occurred in the Saskatchewan town of Tisdale last week shows that anyone can commit a hideous cyber crime. It is a new low point when it comes to the wrong use of technology. It’s sad that Canadian law makers have been slow to crack down on such crimes and the people who abuse technology in order to hurt other people.
Having said that, I am reminded that three people at the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association made a late night phone call to Monique Massiah, a friend and former Maple Creek reporter. Humorous voice messages were left when Monique did not answer her phone, but such simple-minded antics can get out of control if over-zealous individuals don’t know where fun ends and offense begins.
We were at the SWNA convention to learn about changes in the industry and to learn who won Premier Awards for excellence. Your local paper did quite well as Marcia Love received a provincial first-place for an agriculture story she penned. Angela Litke also placed first in the Tourism category and Marcia, Angela and myself were recognized for our collaborative effort to produce a first-place photo essay.
Prior to leaving the convention and driving through 40 cm of sloppy, wet snow, the elevator doors at our hotel opened and Lester Lodoen’s double was inside. Actually, it was Lester and I was shocked to see him. I should be getting used to it by now because we bump into people we know all over. A couple years ago, we happened to walk through the grand Empress Hotel in Victoria and bumped into Omar and Lou Ellen Murray. While in Paris and touring the Louvre, we met MP Ralph Goodale and his wife – how unusual is that?
Getting back to the point of this column, it was great to see Marcia and Angela recognized for the extra work they put in trying to make news coverage as extensive and professional as possible. Behind the scenes, Faith and Megan keep everything in order while I do my best to keep them on their toes. Some days are good and others present difficult challenges, but the environment always improves when we stick together and seek solutions. The bottom line is we can improve our personal lives and our town with a positive mental outlook and a little patience and perseverance. If you don’t believe me, ask Marcia.