Journalism career in the rear-view mirror

Reporter and columnist Jennifer Smith says goodbye after a decade at the Capital News

Jennifer Smith

On the day this paper arrives, I will be packing up my Okanagan life and heading for a new adventure.

Watching colleagues go, I’ve seen boxes of newsprint walk out the door and I’m so thankful I’ve waited long enough the task only requires a jumpdrive.

Packing away 10 years in 10 days doesn’t leave much time for clutter, or sentimentality, so it’s a relief I won’t add work documents to the Mount Fuji of boxes I’m playing Jenga with in the living room.

Yesterday, I was listening to some journalist pitch his book, a humorous warning that the future isn’t utopia. I’ve always been a forward-looking person, so it gave me pause, but only long enough to realize it’s exactly the part of journalism I won’t miss. There can be an overbearing sense of pessimism in constantly being on the questioning, critiquing end of life, even when it’s masked in humour.

We are very lucky in the Okanagan to have many hopeful stories to write about, keeping thoughts of impending world doom at bay. From Penticton to Vernon, we bathe in the glow of people who will give up much to enjoy the beauty in life and it has been quite the trip documenting those ventures.

Where else could Silverado Socrates, of Mandy and Me Trail Rides, pull up to the front door of the newspaper in her limousine, Great Dane’s head sticking out the sunroof, to leave a handful of hall-of-fame-style stickers of her animals Harley the pig, and Magic the horse? And then offer up a free bunny.

I will always remember Kelowna’s bunny scourge as my favourite story fodder—sorry, “rabbits” is the politically correct term. The headline “Bunnies for bird food” still stands as my absolute favourite one-liner, even if the story was a macabre description of how the rabbits exterminated on Enterprise Way would be fed to predator birds in Kamloops.

I’m so thankful I learned commuting to work by bike is really the best possible way to go. Writing OutSpoken, documenting six months of life without a car, was a privilege which changed my own life trajectory and world view.

Thanks to my time here, I now know water actually freezes to firefighters mid-winter and you can’t cover a story in -20C with a pen.

I will always regret never finding the cow that escaped on the Greenway. “Mad Cow escapes!” would have made a great headline and one actually worthy of the dreaded exclamation point we avoid in newspapers.

I’m very thankful for the many people who overlooked my gaffes and errors and continued reading, and I’m glad I can now write the word “graffiti” with absolute abandon, disregarding the reprimands of kind civil servants who believe discussion of this art form should be avoided for fear it will incite more graffiti.

We avoid mentioning suicide for fear of copycats—discussion of spray-paint doesn’t hold the same mettle in my mind.

I’ve learned much at this newspaper, but have far, far more to learn. Thank you for reading everyone and take care!

Twitter: @jaswrites

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