The Free Press welcomes new editor

Phil McLachlan has stepped into the role of editor at The Free Press

I’m very excited to say that as of last Wednesday, I’ve stepped into the position of Editor here at The Free Press! The past six months have shown me that the Elk Valley is home to some wonderful people with some very interesting stories to tell. This, combined with a great work crew at a newspaper with over 100 years of history has inspired me to learn and grow in my new profession.

Since November, I have met and interviewed many people in Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford. Despite each of these being small towns, I was surprised to find so many vibrant, interesting people, full of life and ready to share their stories.

One of my best experiences here so far has been documenting the Fernie Ghostriders. What an exciting, passionate committed group of hockey players. I can’t wait until next season.

I have produced a few stories here that stick out in my mind as my best yet. Most of these came as a complete surprise.

Firstly, documenting the journey of Edith Thomson and her family escaping from the clutches of civil war in Ghana was eye-opening and convicting. Developing the story about the PTSD in emergency service workers was also challenging and eye-opening. Throughout the winter, the numerous snow-sport competitions and The Arts Station shows were a pleasure to attend. Also, documenting the inspiring stories of Mackenzie Adams, Caleb Brown and Marsha Bradcoe still remain as some of my favourite pieces.

This is the third community in the past three years that I have come to know. Out of all three, I feel most comfortable in this community. And when I say community, I’m referring to everyone in the Elk Valley.

Born and raised on Vancouver Island, I left a small countryside community of a few hundred and travelled to Ontario to pursue photojournalism. What a shock. eastern Canada is a much different world.

After working, growing and learning in my new profession I left the chilly open lakes of Ontario in April of last year and moved to the dusty, dry plains of Alberta. There, I worked for the summer in a city of roughly 30,000 people until the end of the summer. In those months working at The Meridian Booster newspaper, I got to know the city, and its community.

For a town of just over 5,000 people, Fernie’s community is incredibly strong.

Here, I feel accepted and welcomed. Here, the quality of life is tremendous.

Being a journalist, I interact with people on a daily basis. I have found that the people in the Elk Valley are very content to be where they are, doing what they do. This makes my job an absolute joy, day in and day out.

For that, I say thank you.

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