Since this is a column, and columns are often written from the first-person perspective – with a heavy dose of opinion sprinkled in with the facts – it’s probably best if I begin with an introduction. My name is Jon Svec, and I grew up on a small cherry farm in Blenheim, Ontario. After high school I attended the University of Waterloo where I studied English Language and Literature and also played linebacker for the Waterloo Warriors football team. I later got into coaching, spending five years as the defensive coordinator for the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men in Nova Scotia before falling into the field of journalism.
My first newspaper job was as the editor of the Shellbrook Chronicle, a small independent paper located in northern Saskatchewan. It was there that I learned to appreciate the specific characteristics of true community news. There were no bank robberies in Shellbrook – a town of about 1,300 people – during my tenure at the Chronicle. There were no political scandals, no shootouts, no high-speed chases. What I found in abundance, however, were interesting and unique stories about the people who lived and worked there – ordinary, everyday folks who you wouldn’t give a second glance to on the street, but when given the chance to speak had no shortage of remarkable things to say.
As I worked to hone my craft and learn the profession on the fly, I began to formulate a unique vision of community news – of what it is and what it should be – and I began to realize how vital this service is to any community, no matter how large or small. I refer to it as a “service” because that’s what I see it to be – a vehicle that gives a community a voice, that informs them but also echoes their reactions, that chronicles and records what happens within their municipal borders.
I also learned about the limitations that arise when using ink to put these things down on paper. Such a practice, I found, always led to compromises. Some stories were too long and needed to be cut, certain photographs would have to be chosen over others, and always, always, one needed to make sure that all of the advertisements could fit into their allotted spaces. Throw in the obvious time delay associated with a weekly publication, and the feeling grew even stronger that there had to be a better way.
After some time in Shellbrook I decided to move on, and I later took a position with the St. Paul Journal, a slightly larger publication in Alberta. In between those two roles I spent some time doing freelance work for the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin.
Still, though, this thought persisted, and the limitations and compromises of the traditional newspaper medium continued to weigh me down. As a result, after much thought and planning, the Thornbury Paper was born.
Our goal is to provide the community of Thornbury and the entire Town of the Blue Mountains with a publication that is uniquely their own, that covers the events and the people who live here, and that offers up the very service that I spoke about above. We will do this by using an online format to ensure timely and comprehensive delivery of the stories that make up this community. I look forward to getting to know many of you as we move forward with this exciting project, and I encourage you to contact me at any time if you have an upcoming event or story I should know about.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you back here very soon.