What a journey it has been.
Nearly 11 years ago, I first wrote some jumbled words on a blog I created, called the Sports Scribbler. You can still find those words if you search hard enough.
The mixed-up, unorganized thoughts with a few cleaver phrases mixed in were my attempt to find a purpose. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine those words would bring me here, as the Managing Editor at the Red Deer Advocate, a newspaper with nearly 100 years of distinguished journalism to its name.
It’s surreal and sometimes daunting when you think about it that way.
In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t lived in Red Deer long. This is my sixth year in the city, arriving from Fort St. John, B.C., via Melfort, Sask. and Georgetown, Ont., with a few other Ontario cities mixed in before my trip out west.
Before that trip nine years ago to pursue journalism, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I loved writing, I loved interacting with people and I loved sports. You can do a lot of things with those interests, but I wanted to write. I wanted to share stories of those who don’t always have a voice. I remember as a kid reading the Georgetown Independent, our local twice-weekly paper and thinking how cool it would be to write stories about local sports – to watch sports and talk to athletes for a living. The feeling when I saw my name in the paper as an athlete, is the same one I get today, whenever I see it in print or online above a story. I feel proud.
Journalism was never a dream for me, it was a pursuit. At some point along the way, it became an obsession, a deep passion to know and to share stories and information with anyone who would listen.
Over the last few years, as COVID-19 ravaged the sports world I had to prove I could apply my skills to not just sports, but news too. I threw myself into it, asking questions, talking to people, helping to tell stories in the best way I could.
These past few years have been difficult for all of us. As a reporter, I tried to shine a light on those difficulties as best I could – and of course, highlight the good stuff as often as possible. There is still good in this world and some days we lose sight of that. It’s important to search out the good and embrace it tightly as we move forward.
I came to Red Deer as a kid who just wanted to write about sports and I’ve become so much more than that. I’ve learned so much about myself in my journey to this point and in my five years in Red Deer. I don’t know everything and I never will, but I know there is a fierce passion in this community to make it better and there are helpers all around who want to make that happen.
It can’t happen overnight and it can’t happen with just one or two people. It will take all of us coming together – using our collective voice to advocate for change and hold those in power to account.
That’s where we come in at the Advocate. We have a small but dedicated team who care so deeply about this community and what the future holds. Most of us have made our lives here and want to do whatever it takes to make a difference here. I love the team at the Advocate and believe with the right support, we can do some great journalism, that really shows what this city is all about.
We won’t always agree and in our current world, it seems to be disagreement is the only line of discourse that makes it through the mess.
We need to change that.
At the Advocate, we’re going to do our best to bring you top-notch journalism, with a fiery passion and dedication that I hope you as a reader will come to appreciate.
If you ever have any questions, concerns or story ideas, do not hesitate to reach out and connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach me over the phone: 403-314-4363.
Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor at the Red Deer Advocate.