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The joys of working at a small town newspaper

I worked on the community newspaper in High Prairie, Alberta for a couple of years back in the 1980s.

It was called the South Peace News and it was actually the first newspaper I was a reporter for. It was a lot of fun, especially since my main job was sports (which I happen to know a bit about).

I found out early on what it was like to be in a small town. I was at a meeting one evening about one sport and met a number of people. The next day, I was in a meeting about a different sport and some of the same people were there.

I found myself in the somewhat embarrassing position of having to admit to the one man that I knew I had talked to him the evening before, but I could not remember his name.

He laughed, and assured me it wasn’t a problem.

“When you got here,” he said, “you had to learn a hundred new names. We just had to learn one new name.”

Those are words I have remembered since then, especially any time I started a job in a new location. I would still sometimes forget names, but I didn’t feel quite as bad about it (unless it was my boss).

It was also kind of fun learning how interested everyone in town was in sports. During the playoffs, I usually was on the bus with the senior hockey team when they went on the road. A lot of times, I left my car at the office and walked to where we were leaving from, then did the same when we got back so I could write my story.

One night, we got home and I started walking to the office when a police car pulled up beside me. The driver was an officer I knew, and he offered me a ride.

He was being polite, but he also wanted to get the info about the game before the next morning, so he had some questions for me on the ride.

The other things I found out living in small-town Alberta was, at least back then, you couldn’t find too many Edmonton Oiler fans in High Prairie. It took me a few months to realize this was because the only out-of-town newspapers we got were from Edmonton, the Journal and the Sun, as were the only area TV stations. All of them tended to gush over anything the Oilers did.

A lot of people seemed to find the constant “rah-rah” attitude hard to take, so they started cheering for whoever the Oilers were playing.

It made it kind of fun, and I sometimes wish I could go back to that sort of thing.

But then I flip on my computer and get shot-by-shot coverage of the U.S. Open golf championships and think, “OK, there are some changes I like in media.”

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