Another View: I learned a lot of things about Sooke

Sooke News Mirror editor leaves some parting words

Pirjo Raits

As many of you know, I will be leaving my position as the editor for the Sooke News Mirror effective June 23. It feels like the right time to change direction and spend time enjoying life on my own terms.

Although I will be staying in Sooke for the foreseeable future, Sooke has taught me a lot in the 10 years I’ve been here at the Sooke News Mirror.

• Sooke is a vibrant and artistic community with a plethora of talented people involved in the arts. They draw much of their inspiration from the beauty that surrounds Sooke –  the forests, oceans and mountains. Most wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I feel honoured to have met so many of you and to have written your stories. You let me peek into your lives ever so slightly and share their vision with our readers.

The arts are a vital lifeline in Sooke, from the immensely successful Sooke Fine Arts Show to the studio artists scattered from East Sooke to Port Renfrew, to the folk music and bluegrass and the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra.

• Sooke is a community of people who help one another when needed and leave people alone when they want solitude. We watch out for our neighbours and get involved in all of the issues of importance to the community. Volunteers in this community work tirelessly for the benefit of others and with that comes a sense of belonging to a broader “family.”

• I learned what going “Up Sooke” means.

• Sookies are not afraid to speak their mind. They are involved, concerned and vocal about situations and issues that affect them. They love to write letters. They have, at a times, broadened my own view. Our letters pages have always pointed to what people in Sooke are thinking and passionate about.

• No matter how inconvenient and winding and frustrating Sooke Road is, it is always a pleasure to travel home on it. The road always feels longer leaving Sooke than it does coming back.

• I have learned something from every single person I’ve worked with and from every story I’ve written. Taking this job in Sooke has awarded me many national and provincial honours and awards but that would not have been possible without the people who let me into their lives.

• I learned what it means to stick by my decisions, to run a story or print a photograph. People loved them and they hated them but they always told the story and that is what journalism is supposed to be all about. Those decisions were never made lightly and they were always done with the broader picture in mind. I wagged a finger at council when it was necessary and said what many others were thinking.

• I learned about  common sense and what the real meaning of that is. My editorials were never intended to get people to see my point of view, they were written so readers would think about an issue, discuss it and form their own opinions. They were always meant to be informative and engaging and they were often written with a broader perspective than mine alone.

• The Sooke News Mirror is a team and each week we put our all in to get the paper out, through fire and technical breakdowns, the paper has always reached our readers. In these days of digital news, a community newspaper plays an even more important role in bringing the local stories to readers. The business itself has changed immensely in the 10 years I’ve been in Sooke and we have tried to embrace the new while tenaciously hanging onto the old school community newspaper style — which is about people.

Mostly, I’ve learned that in a community there is room for all of us.

Thank you Sooke for all you have done for me and I hope I have shone a bright and positive light on this community.

I hope the community will welcome the new editor Kevin Laird. He comes with a lifetime of experience, most recently as editor for the Victoria News. The paper will take a new shape under his editorship and bring a breath of fresh air to the pages.

Pirjo Raits