As most of you will know, the good folk of Ellon & District elected me on May 3 as one of their four representatives on Aberdeenshire Council. After taking a week or so since then to consider my position, I’ve decided that it might be best if I say my goodbyes as a reporter for the Ellon Times.
I had hoped it might be possible to carry on in some regard, but as the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end.’ Being honest, there was always potential for a conflict of interest, which my columnular colleague Jack Nixon summed up for me with habitual pithiness a few weeks ago, observing in an email that it was difficult to “make headlines and write them at the same time.”
He’s right. While a lot of the time there would be no problem wearing the two hats, sooner or later a conflict would be bound to arise. The easiest way to deal with such a situation is to make sure it never arises in the first place.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my year and a bit at the Times. A reporter’s job is one which puts you right at the heart of the community, recording its triumphs and occasionally its tragedies as well. My consolation in giving up a job I love is that I’ll still be able to be at the heart of the community, albeit in a different guise.
It’s no secret the newspaper industry is experiencing intense pressures right now, mainly from online news sources. However, anyone can post up a rumour on a website, or crib something for a blog from one of the big sites like the BBC. It takes a special set of skills to be able to find out what is really happening, and to be able to present it in a fair and balanced way which folk can trust.
Newspapers have to move with the times, and the Ellon Times has certainly been doing that of late with our website and Facebook presence. While our circulation is good and our relationship with our readers is strong, if we don’t value our local titles, then there’s the danger in future years that that they might disappear altogether.
It has been a privilege to be able to spend time chronicling all the things, big and small, which make our various communities tick. As I prepare to walk out of the door for the final time as a reporter and into a new role in the community, I hope that the paper will continue to enjoy the support of the area it strives to serve.