I attended an editor’s conference in Parksville recently, and I happened to end up sitting next to the North Island newspaper legend himself, good ol’ J.R. Rardon.
Whenever I get nervous, I immediately start cracking jokes, hoping it will lighten the mood.
The first thing I said to him was “you know how many times I’ve heard someone say ‘well, when J.R. was here he did it differently!’”
He burst out laughing and the mood was immediately lightened.
It was really intimidating talking to him, though. Back when I first started as a reporter at the Gazette, sports were my main coverage area, and I looked through previous issues to familiarize myself with all the local teams.
That was when my heart sunk deep in my chest and I couldn’t breathe.
I read J.R.’s articles, saw how drop dead gorgeous his photographs were, and I knew there was no way I could ever fill his shoes.
Even now, after almost two years of nonstop writing and taking pictures, I still think I’m stuck in his shadow.
No matter how hard I try, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be as good as J.R. was, and frankly still is, at journalism.
There’s a reason he was made the editor of the Parksville/Qualicum Beach newspaper this year.
His sports coverage while he lived here on the North Island was exemplary, with my favourite article of his being the one he wrote on the 2013 Seven Hills Golf Club’s Men’s Open.
Port Alice’s Rory Bondue claimed the low gross crown that year, and pro golfer Kevin Black unofficially shot the course record with a 61 (there was maintenance being done on the first hole which made it shorter, so Jim Smith’s 62 he shot in 1995 still stands to this day as the official club record).
I wasn’t at the event, but somehow J.R. made me feel like I was.
All the great details and word choices he used made the article flow perfectly, and it brought the images to life inside my head.
I’ve tried to recreate that same flow so many times in so many different stories, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to truly pull it off.
Living in the shadow of someone else’s greatness is a tough thing to deal with.
I’ve spent many an hour trying to find new ways to get better at my craft, in order to somehow reach his level of professionalism and relevance.
After talking with him at the conference, I also found out he is also an incredibly nice and humble person, who had nothing but good things to say about his time spent reporting on the North Island.
I also learned a very valuable lesson about not comparing myself to others who have done this job previously.
You should never hold yourself up to another person’s accomplishments – believe in yourself and focus on achieving your own goals.
In the end, it will make you a much happier person.
Anyways enough from me, I’ll sign off by saying J.R. said to say hello to the North Island communities, and he also mentioned he might come back one day for a visit, so if you ever see him around town, be sure to tell him how much you miss him.