Paige Mueller writes her final editorial for The Free Press. File Photo

EDITORIAL: Editor bids farewell

Editor Paige Mueller will be leaving The Free Press team at the end of July

The time has come for me to bid adieu to The Free Press and to all of you fine folks. This will be my last newspaper as editor and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my time here.

When I first arrived in Fernie in November I was quickly thrown into the deep end of the newspaper game. With no reporter and a full paper to fill up with stories, I was incredibly grateful to the community who both welcomed and supported me. People reached out with stories, even offering to write them as contributions to help alleviate my busy schedule. The Free Press staff was fantastic in making me feel like a part of the team right off the bat. Generally speaking, you all welcomed me with open arms and it was a joy getting to hear your stories.

And then… things went a little wonky.

I don’t think any of us could have predicted the events of this year. How could anyone have guessed that 2020 would bring a drastic restructuring of how we do things and how we interact with each other? Who knew that we’d be working from home, avoiding hugs with our friends and using so much hand sanitizer our skin cracks?

Reporting during a pandemic has had its ups and downs. Running a newspaper out of my basement brought a whole slew of challenges with it. It was definitely difficult not being able to go out and about in the community to do interviews in person and to take photos and to interact with you folks. However, a happy side effect did come out of this tough situation.

Although my social circle was drastically reduced in early April as I started working from home, I spent a good deal of time chatting with wonderful members of the community on the phone which helped to keep me going. Whenever I contacted someone for a story, we would inevitably end up chatting about how we were doing, ways to stay sane and tips for getting through this thing together.

Interviews with community members quickly became an important social staple in my life, a connection to the outside world and a chance to chat with someone outside my immediate circle. These interactions kept me going for the long months spent working at home, isolated from the very community I was reporting on.

So thank you for your time and your support over the past few months. They haven’t been easy for anyone and I appreciate those of you who are continuing to be kind and generous and understanding despite the situation.

I’ve learned so much in this position with The Free Press, both about the community news industry and about the Elk Valley and the people who live here. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for reading the newspaper every week. Thank you for your Letters to the Editor. Thank you for your continued support of community journalism.

I wish all the best to you and yours and although this is farewell for now, you can be sure I’ll be popping back up in the valley in the future. So buh-bye for now folks!

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