The Free Press welcomes two new reporters

The Free Press brings on board two new reporters.

  • Nov. 10, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Phil McLachlan

My name is Phil McLachlan, and I’m very excited to start at The Free Press.

From an early age, photography and writing have been an important part of my life and in 2014 I decided to take a leap of faith and commit to studying photojournalism at Loyalist College in Ontario.  Learning the art of visual storytelling presented the opportunity to grab hold of what I had always dreamed of: a life as a photographer and journalist.

Human interaction is everywhere.  It can be found in all aspects of living, and for me, it is what makes small town living exciting. While working in the Meridian Booster newsroom this past summer, I experienced the gears of a real-world publication, and got a taste of how much we as reporters are involved with the community every day.  Throughout this summer I was given the pleasure to watch Lloydminster grow, as well as Onion Lake Cree Nation, a neighbouring First Nations community.

The art of representation has always fascinated me. As journalists, we have the power to shine light on an issue and engage the viewer at many different angles. Ultimately, this power comes with great responsibility: to the public, and to ourselves. Ethical journalism is of great importance to me. Through my work as a photojournalist, I hope I can invoke emotion, display human connection, and ultimately tell the truth of a story.

Arriving in the city of Fernie, I was immediately stunned by the scenery. Raised in the small fishing town of Cowichan Bay, I was surrounded by mountains, but nothing like this. On my first day of work as I watched the sun rise and light up the mountain peaks, I knew I had made the right choice in coming to the city. I don’t imagine I’ll get tired of looking at that any time soon.

I now see the attraction to snow-culture, and I understand why people travel from all over the world to towns such as Fernie. Contrary to popular practice, I do not know how to ski or snowboard. However, soccer, curling, mountain biking, and trail running are personal favourites of mine. I can’t wait to explore Fernie, learn more about its culture, and meet some of the wonderful people that reside here.

Ezra Black

My name is Ezra Black, and I am very happy to be a part of The Free Press team.

A bit about me: I was born and raised in Montreal. I was once more-or-less bilingual but have been slowly losing my French to attrition and lack of practice.

My first big break in journalism came while I was completing an undergraduate degree at the University of King’s College in Halifax. There I was, idly staring out the window when I saw what appeared to be a cage full of pigeons on a nearby roof.

“What was happening?” I wondered. Were these messenger pigeons? Squab? Or was something more sinister afoot? So I launched a full on investigation.

It occurred to me that this was probably a pest control issue so I obsessively called different companies around town. Things got heavy as I kept asking hard questions, digging deeper and deeper for the truth. Finally I learned the school was culling its pigeon population. Apparently the birds were damaging some of the university’s older buildings with their corrosive nests and such.

I published the story to the school’s website. Very few people read it. Then the CBC picked it up and shortly after the college was inundated with angry phone calls from animal rights activists, concerned with the school’s treatment of its birds.

For almost three years, I’ve been living and working in the Crowsnest Pass. The Pass is an authentic, beautiful place. I fell in love with its mountain lifestyle and friendly people. I have done some reporting for the Elk Valley Herald, so I’m fairly well acquainted with the issues facing the valley.