Journalism With Clear-Eyed Dedication!

Posted on Tuesday, October 25 at 10:13 by BC Mary
The Courier is the only English-language newspaper in New Brunswick that is not owned by the Irving empire, a vast, $4 billion conglomerate of pulp mills, trucking companies, potato fields, hardware stores, gas stations and oil refineries that completely dominates the Maritime economy. Some pundits say the Irving papers pull their punches on news items that affect Irving interests, but others disagree. That isn't something that Courier editor Jim Cornall thinks about much. Mostly, he thinks about how to fill the pages that must be printed every Tuesday and Thursday. "We're good," Bockus, the paper's senior reporter, says unabashedly. "I've been in the business 30 years, so I know. We don't compromise morals or anything else. You can't, in a small town." Think the Watergate scandal put pressure on reporters at the mighty Washington Post? Try this one: When a local doctor's wife was charged with drunk driving, the doctor threatened to close his practice and leave town if the Courier printed news of her conviction this in a community where the chronic shortage of physicians periodically forces the emergency room to shut down. What did they do? "We printed it of course," Bockus says with a snort. "What else are you going to do? We had to." This summer, Bockus broke the story of how Gregory Allen Despres, a man accused of murdering two elderly neighbours in New Brunswick, was allowed into the United States despite showing border agents a bag full of swords, brass knuckles, an axe, chain saw and a knife. That story was picked up by newspapers around the world. Just last month, the paper wrote a story about an American who tried to swim across the St. Croix River into Canada to meet his sweetheart and drowned. The story was picked up by television in his home state of Tennessee and carried by CNN. Then, there was the terrorist attack in London, a bit off the regular beat for most small-town newspapers in North America. The St. Croix Courier is one of the last newspapers in Canada to be printed in the afternoon, something that gave it a huge advantage on July 7, 2005, when bombs began to explode in crowded subways beneath the streets of London. Cornall's staff tracked down a local boy, the son of a provincial politician, who happened to be right next to one of the subway stations. He gave them an eyewitness account over the phone, and the Courier had it on the streets the same day. Papers like the Toronto Star and The New York Times had to wait until the next morning to report that news. All this while following the saga of the new hardware store. The biggest story in St. Stephen this summer was the controversy over whether Kent Building Supplies could move and expand. A handful of neighbours objected, but hundreds wanted it. The council was divided. Courier reporters covered every angle, went to every meeting, devoted hundreds of person-hours and newspaper inches to the debate. The St. Croix Courier newsroom is not exactly a marvel of modern technology or design. Key features are the radio squawking police communication in the corner (that's how they found out about the body on the river bank) and the windows overlooking the main drag (they saw the alleged murderer stroll by on his way to the border). So, when a new flashbulb recently arrived for the newspaper's lone camera, it was a big day. Cornall shuffled a little dance as he hefted it out of the box and the youngest reporter beamed. "It really is like Christmas," the reporter said. They are almost as excited when Bockus brings out fresh raspberry squares baked for her son's upcoming wedding, the smell of butter and jam filling the air. "The pay's not much, but the bonus system is great," she jokes, handing out warm desert squares to her colleagues. Cornall is a former botanist who fell into newspaper work while following love from his native Yorkshire in England. "Like the pudding," Bockus interrupts. "Like the terrier," he counters. You can tell it is an old and affectionate joke between them. "We have too much fun here," Bockus explains. "We really do."

Note: http://register.thestar...

Contributed By


Article Rating

 (0 votes) 


You need to be a member and be logged into the site, to comment on stories.

Latest Editorials

more articles »

Your Voice

To post to the site, just sign up for a free membership/user account and then hit submit. Posts in English or French are welcome. You can email any other suggestions or comments on site content to the site editor. (Please note that Vive le Canada does not necessarily endorse the opinions or comments posted on the site.)

canadian bloggers | canadian news