By Andru McCracken

When we first committed to attending the British Columbia and Yukon Community Newspaper Awards, we didn’t realize we’d be missing several important events, including Valemount’s caribou consultation meeting, a massive fundraiser for a community member, an important AGM and more.

But we went regardless, carting our toddler all the way to Vancouver on a five-day whirlwind trip, and producing a newspaper at the same time. We went because we were anxious to connect with our friends in the industry who make it work every week, and to relax and laugh with the amazing journalists and publishers and editors who make it all happen.

Going to the gala was like drinking from a clear spring. Refreshing. Rejuvenating.

To our amazement we won in the award for general excellence in our category for the second year in a row. We were up against the Eagle Valley News from Sicamous and Westerly News from Tofino and Ucluelet, both great papers. It was an amazing and humbling experience. Many really good journalists, editors and publishers congratulated us, they said they knew our work and read about our valley with interest (though their geographical placement of our community was sometimes challenged).

The outpouring was such that I dropped the chip on my shoulder and really tried to connect with publishers, editors and journalists regardless of their affiliation with the major chains.

Lo and behold, I found myself talking with David Black, the legendary chairman of Black Press, and Peter Kvarnstrom, the charismatic president of Glacier Media. They were there for a reason, and when I spoke with talented people who create their award winning newspapers, the reason showed. The journalists who are writing hard hitting stories, breathtaking photo and video and thought provoking pieces are being propelled to excellence. When they won, they thanked the people that created the space for that excellence. Sometimes Kvarnstrom and Black themselves.This might seem like a lot to take in. It’s been about 13 years since I first rolled into the Ma Murray awards, young and combative.

We share the same drive that is being fostered at other newspapers. We want to cultivate writers and contributors. We want to achieve excellence and help others achieve their best too.

When we acquired the assets of the Valley Sentinel earlier this year many people felt the loss. A loss of history, a loss of continuity and a loss of competition. Monopoly rarely bodes well for product quality, but mark my words, we are going to prove the exception to that rule.

Stay tuned to these pages for some big changes in May.

The Robson Valley and Blue River brought home the gold last Saturday. Arnold Lim spent four years in Blue River when his parents ran the Husky station. He got gold in three different categories for his multimedia work for Black Press. Also pictured, Publisher Laura Keil holding the trophy for newspaper excellence for the Goat’s work in 2018. /ANDRU MCCRACKEN