Hello everyone and thanks for the warm welcome

New publisher/editor of the North Island Gazette writes about plans for the paper and his view of community news

This is the last time you will see my face in this space.

(For those reading online, I’m referring to the left-hand side of the Commentary page).

Hello all, my name is John Harding and I’m the new publisher/editor of The North Island Gazette. More about that brash first sentence in a moment, but first I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the warm welcome during my first week in the region.

Literally every person I’ve met has had a smile and has  been co-operative and helpful. It’s like a movie, or a good dream, except it’s real and genuine.

A bit about myself. Grew up in Ontario, moved out west and went to journalism school in Alberta. Climbed the newspaper ladder, if you will, eventually earning the managing editor position at three Canadian dailies.

At my base I’m a writer, but I’ve learned so much more along the way.

About five years ago, after a hiatus from the paper world, I was delighted to re-engage as the editor of The Parksville Qualicum Beach News.

I’ve always wanted to be a publisher, the newspaper’s general manager, for lack of a better term. Black Press has now given me that opportunity, for which I am grateful.

And what an opportunity. I look out my office window right now and voila, an ocean postcard scene. Inside the office are Natasha, Lilian and Tyson, dedicated employees who have deep roots in the community. They care about the paper and they care about the community. I’m sure they will have me trained soon enough.

Personal information? I like golf, live theatre, all food that comes out of the sea and the Leafs. I do not like intolerance, taxpayer money being wasted, people who drink craft beer because they think that makes them cool, and the Habs. Want to know more? Just ask.

Now, back to that first sentence. This spot in

The Gazette is reserved for the newspaper’s opinion. It is not a place for the word ‘I’. It’s where the editorial goes, the paper’s view on issues of the day. It can be critical, it can be celebratory. Either way, it should be based in facts.

All people carry biases. The editorials that will appear in this space will be written by a flawed human (see Leafs reference above for evidence). Disagree with an editorial?

We have an app for that — write a letter to the editor.

I will sign my editorials, always have. That’s not practised in all papers, but I figure if I ask for your name on your letter to the editor, I should play by the same rules. This isn’t the social media land of anonymous adult trolls who spew hurtful venom from their aging parents’ basement — community newspapers remain a viable, important and responsible conduit for communities.

This paper is about you. It’s about your triumphs, your celebrations, your struggles. We want to share your stories with the entire region. We want to be first with the news — our online presence will be ramped up considerably in the weeks to come — and we promise to do so in a responsible manner. News stories need to be fair and balanced. Editorials, columns and letters to the editor are opinions. It’s important to note the difference.

You will see some changes to the way the paper looks in the coming weeks. Part of that will be due to tech changes we are making at Black Press, the introduction of systems that will set us up better for the digital world in which we live. I’m excited. On many levels. Many thanks once again for the warm welcome. Now, let’s get at it.

— John Harding is the publisher/editor of The Gazette. Email: publisher@northislandgazette.com.