Gerding: Reflecting on 16 years at the helm of the Capital News

For the last 16 years, I have had the privilege of being the managing editor for the Kelowna Capital News.

Time flies when you are having fun.

For the last 16 years, I have had the privilege of being the managing editor for the Kelowna Capital News.

Like most of my career in the community newspaper industry in B.C.—which dates back to September 1981—it’s been a roller coaster rideof continual change and advancement in the tools of our trade and how we use them.

And as how we communicate with each other continues to change and evolve, so too has the media at all levels in how we cover whatpeople are trying to say and do.

Prior to my arrival in Kelowna, I spent almost a decade at the helm of a community newspaper in Burnaby, three years before essentiallystarting up a newspaper in Chilliwack and several years before that working at various other newspapers across the province.

But change presses on, as I pass on the torch to my successor, Kevin Parnell, as it was passed on to me by my predecessors Andrew Hanonand before him Bryden Winsby.

Describing my time as an editor as fun may be considered slightly masochistic, but it is a unique job.

There are few of us in numbers, and our task is one few people genuinely understand but still feel compelled to tell you how it should bedone.

To hear the “You got it all wrong…” refrain seems to wear more thin than it used to in this era of technology where everyone with a cellphone has turned into a reporter, often free of the shackles that journalists take some professional comfort in—that facts do matter.

As an editor, I’ve had people call me names associated with various parts of our anatomy, be so angry their eyes were ready to pop out oftheir head while venting verbiage at me as I subtly tried to wipe the spit froth coming out of their mouth and hitting my face.

And as the joke goes, those were the fun parts of the job.

But as one chapter closes another starts, as I have been presented the opportunity to become the senior regional reporter for Black Press inthe Okanagan Valley, able to contribute stories to our newspapers across the valley and our websites from a regional perspective.

It’s a new job and a new title but reflects the same objectives from the day I started in this business so many years ago— to tell acompelling story that is relevant to readers, and hopefully tell your audience something they didn’t know about their community throughthe life experiences of others.

To drive between Penticton and Vernon for business or personal reasons is not the mental hindrance it was 20 years ago, and that will onlybecome less so as time marches on.

The valley communities continue to be drawn closer together by population growth and economic development while striving to maintaintheir own identities.

When people talk about growth and how it has changed Kelowna, how the small town rural community has grown up in ways they don’treally like, from more crime to traffic to lack of free parking to rising price of housing, I often tell them I am part of the problem.

It is people like me who moved here over the past 20 years for the lifestyle and job opportunities that have changed their community. Forthose of us in that group, coming across people who were actually born and raised here is a rarity.

But the newcomers aren’t going to stop moving here, both young and old, and the changes they bring across the Okanagan Valley willcarry on, both good and bad.

Can a journalist ask for anything more?

Contact Barry Gerding at barry.gerding@blackpress.ca