Journalist puts down notepad after seven years of covering people of St. John Valley
Since 2011, I have had the opportunity to share stories from across the St. John Valley. Some have been happy, others sad. A few have been funny and more than a few, unfortunately, have been about tragedy or loss.
In the past seven years, I have covered everything from the highs of school sports victories to the numbness that grips a small town in the wake of a senseless homicide.
As I end my journalism career this week, it strikes me that the thousands of stories I have written and photographs I have taken have been, at their heart, about the people of northern Maine.
My first editor reminded me early on that stories are about people, not about agencies or programs. Stories serve as a bridge between people and not simply as a means to convey information. At least the ones we reporters like to write serve that purpose.
A news story is never about cancer. It is about how the family deals with their daughter’s diagnosis and treatment. The sports article is not simply about a baseball team. It is about the students and coaches who rallied together to bring a baseball program back to a small school.
My time with the St. John Valley Times and, since 2015, with the Bangor Daily News and Fiddlehead Focus, has afforded me opportunities to talk with people from Hamlin to Allagash and from Frenchville to Portage Lake. I have also ventured into Canada, where I was reminded that learning French at an early age may have been a good idea.
Each place has its own character, which I have tried to reflect in my stories and photographs. I have often been struck by the beauty of landscapes I have seen a hundred times.
It is always interesting to sit down expecting one story and ending up with another, or capturing a moment in photo that is fleeting yet poignant. As reporters, we often go into an interview with a plan, but must also be open to having that plan turned on its head.
In the end, though, the stories and images must be read and seen by readers. The articles that resonate with people are often shared on social media. The ones that anger people are also shared and commented on.
While I have sometimes noticed my successes at telling your stories, I have often been too busy to notice them all or to always take note of when I missed the mark. Even in rural Maine, there is always the next story to write.
From now on, however, it will not be me writing that story. I am staying in the St. John Valley, where I have been since arriving at UMFK in 1987, but moving on to another career. Others will be here to write the news. But, I appreciate the honor of being able to have shared your stories over the past several years.