Dear Ms. Hanes,
Congratulations on your new role as The Gazette’s city columnist. I have long been of the opinion that local newspapers, even those oh so old ones that could be neatly folded and carried in a jacket pocket to be referenced throughout the day, are the lifeblood of communities and cities. Further, I believe that city columns are the heart of city newspapers.
I grew up reading your predecessors, including Ted Blackman, Nick Auf der Maur (at one time they alternated days, giving Ted an easy to remember schedule: on today, Auf der Maur) and Jack Todd. Having broken into this one time bastion of male journalists, you already provide the promise of a different take on things.
It is my contention that the key to a good city column is to write about issues that touch locals and about people who readers will find familiar, all the while revealing unknown tidbits of information. It is all about interacting with local figures. In other words a bit of gossip never hurts. However the method of obtaining these morsels of interest has no doubt changed.
At one time the topic of many a city column was gleaned during a long, boozy lunch – ‘overheard in a Bishop Street bar’ – or over too many late night drinks in smoky watering holes. Well, the smoke, much like the IBM Selectric on which more than a few city columns were composed, is gone, at least to a point nine metres from restaurants and bars. (Interestingly if adhered to this bylaw would place many smokers square in the middle of the street. Yet another of the dangers of smoking.)
I suspect you will do the lion’s share of your interacting via laptop and smartphone, the modern tools of the trade. But perhaps the occasional boozy lunch, and a late night, sans smoke of course, every now and then might not go amiss, if only for old times’ sake.
Again my congratulations; I wish you the very best of luck in your new endeavour and look forward to reading your column.