Gone fishin

The smile said it all. It’s the dawn of a new era for David Meyer.

It’s our first Inside Wellington cover dedicated to a staff member. After some minimal arm twisting he agreed to be interviewed on his retirement, which caps off decades of reporting in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

For those who do not know David personally, he has spent his career railing against personality journalism, amongst other things. “The story is the story – it’s not about the reporter,” he would often say.

After 35 years in the Newspaper business, 16 of those years with the Wellington Advertiser, we thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to a true News man. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing commitment.

Unlike most other media, a Newspaper and its published articles chronicle an area’s history and are relied upon greatly by historians and researchers. David’s work as published here and elsewhere will form part of an important chapter in Wellington County history. Of that he should be proud.

Last December at our annual Christmas party, David was recognized with a Silver Quill award from the Ontario Community Newspaper Association.

He was surprised, as were others, as I faltered a bit in my speech. The twins found it particularly amusing, that I was able to speak about Dad’s award with ease and hesitated with David. But I was the only one who knew David was retiring in the summer.

Memories obviously collide with reality at times, and there are many memories of hard work, laughter and yes, sad times. Along the way I hope to have been as good and loyal to him as he has been with me, both as an employee and a friend.

The first time I met David, he was pretty nervous. A short-lived local Newspaper war with the Fergus Elora News Express ended when the upstart Elora Sentinel and Fergus Thistle folded, leaving him without a job. David felt he could be of help in our News department and I agreed. We haven’t looked back.

Curiosity is the hallmark of a good reporter and David has that in spades. But it would be months into his employment that he wondered aloud how the Advertiser avoided the local skirmish amongst the Newspapers – and I said a couple of reasons.

First, we compete only with ourselves, trying always to improve our own product, and second, our slogan became “We Cover the County.” Again, we haven’t looked back and those words took root. Cover it he has.

Through amalgamation there was no better source for News. That came with a cost and I think in many ways it set us apart in this marketplace. Meyer’s thorough coverage and understanding of what was happening was critical and the financial commitment we demonstrated to readers by publishing Newspapers full of News spoke volumes. In one of our after-deadline discussions it became clear, the Advertiser was filling a role no one else was prepared to fill. He took pride in that, as did we.

As we celebrate this milestone with him, it is worth noting that long-time reporters will have invested more in community happenings than their subjects. Politicians and activists come and go, but reporters soldier on.

Along the way David has instilled many of his News values on reporters in our Newsroom. He can be crusty and seemed to revel in exuding an image of a grumpy old copy editor. Once past that veneer one could see a passion for pursuing excellence in journalism. As suggested in his cover story in Inside Wellington this week, reporters can never be 100% happy with their work – but they do the best they can with the time constraints.

There was a time, too, that David fancied himself as an eccentric bachelor for life. I figured that to be an excuse for working too hard and not socializing enough. It was a happy day to learn he had been seeing someone and eventually he married Anna. The confirmed bachelor became a family man, now busy taking kids to ball games and events.

Over the years we have heard many of his war stories repeated. New hires endure the lecture on the perils of political correctness, the unintended outcomes of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a slew of other dated commentaries from his days at Ryerson on the News business.

His most remembered theme though is the concept that “words have meaning.” In terms of writing, good writing is choosing a good word, while great writing is choosing the best word. It is that appreciation for the craft that we admire in David. He really cares about that part of the News and demonstrated a fascination with grammar, use of words and styles. As our society abandons formal English with texting and informal banter on line, we hope to continue keeping the tradition of words and their meaning as well.

We hope he joins us on line and keeps up on our activities from his new home in Chatham. Although loathe to surf the Internet, he might see and enjoy the value snowbirds and former residents get with www.wellingtonadvertiser.com. Chances are high that we will get the odd ribbing should a mistake occur.

The smile says it all. We wish David the best.