Every once in a while, I stop to reflect on some of the decisions I’ve made.
Have I been fair? Did I try to examine (the story) from all possible angles? Is there more I could have done?
The answers to these respective questions are usually: Yes, I’ve been fair. Yes, I always try to examine all possible angles, but sometimes any person misses one. Yes, in the end there is usually more any person could have done, but deadlines are what they are — and then life gets in the way, too — mistakes happen.
Being new to Valemount — five months here — and having already been a critic of the Village’s council at certain points during my stay, as of late I’ve been applying these questions of fairness specifically to my interactions, or lack thereof, with the Village.
In light of recent dismissals — firings — of some of the Village’s senior management, one of them chose to speak out, and the other agreed to speak with me when I called.
As a result of speaking with them, I feel I’ve managed to answer the aforementioned questions that I ask myself.
These ex-staffers, former Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Macneill, and former Corporate Officer, Mark Brennan, have polar opposite views on an array of Village related topics. They disagree about a lot of things.
Ultimately, Brennan is suing the Village for what he calls a wrongful dismissal.
Macneill wants to put this Village, and his career here, in the rearview mirror and move on with his life.
In Brennan’s view, the mayor and council favour a select group in the community, or “their friends”.
While in the eyes of Macneill, the mayor doesn’t get enough credit for some of the great work she does around here, which I thought might be true to a degree.
But keep in mind, The Goat asks the Village about the good things here, too.
With CAO Macneill being the exception to this general rule, to date, there has been little correspondence between the Village and The Goat — not due to The Goat’s lack of trying.
The Goat has put in sufficient effort with the Village, thus providing fairness to it.
However, I’ve realized one of the most difficult things for any newspaper to do is provide fairness to a perspective that isn’t shared with the newspaper.
Although, Mayor Townsend did send a reply via email in regards to Mark Brennan’s departure, which is a huge step in the right direction.
Regardless, the one thing the former staff members did agree on: there is dysfunction within the Village office — albeit not financial, as both Macneill and Brennan stressed that point.
Those are both of their words, not mine, and not The Goat’s.
The majority of stories I have done — the stories that seemingly stir up the most controversy — dysfunction within the Village office has been a recurring theme, regardless of how each story was written, or the angle that was taken (at least, in my opinion).
There is fairness; again, in having ex-staff members confirm the dysfunction once more.
The job of a journalist isn’t a 9 – 5 sort-of-deal. There are council meetings in the evenings, phone calls and interviews on the weekends, and thoughts that occur to a journalist at 3 AM that need to be written down, immediately (at 3 AM).
Our phone number is in the paper every week along with our email address. We, I, place outgoing emails, calls and interviews every week on every story we write. We, as a team, are open and accessible.
The Goat’s goal is to observe, and to aid the public in holding authority to account by keeping truth in the public eye, while acting as a liaison for the valley’s citizens.