Times receives national recognition

By the time this is published, I will be in Ottawa, where the Canadian community newspaper industry is gathering this week to salute its best from the past year.
It also is a first for our industry in that publishers from both the English and the French press will come together, meet, and discuss the similarities and differences in our industry.
The Fort Frances Times is up for four national awards this weekend, including editor Mike Behan for an editorial on gay marriage he wrote last year, one for our sports section, and a third for best newspaper promotion.
In addition, Times reporter Melanie Béchard is up for an award, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for a series of articles she wrote on a project in China involving local lawyer Larry Eustace.
The winners in each category, which pits the Times against other newspapers across Canada with circulations of 10,000 and under (making up 80 percent of the 670 titles in the CCNA), will be announced Saturday night.
We have never before been in the running for so many awards at the national level. It is recognition of the efforts the team at the Fort Frances Times puts into producing a quality product.
We often forget that when we see reporters from the newspaper at events in the evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays that they are taking time from their normal lives to write and photograph activities in the community.
On Tuesday evening once a month, for instance, when Melanie Béchard is covering a board of education meeting, she will return to the office to write that story, often staying well past midnight so it can be in Wednesday’s edition.
Our sports writers are tireless workers. A great many of the Muskie hockey, volleyball, and basketball action is on Tuesdays, as are many Borderland Thunder games over the season.
The sports pages cannot be laid out until the final buzzer has sounded for the end of the game. Then our sports writer can begin the task of writing the story and laying out the pages.
I suspect part of the reason our sports pages are receiving recognition this year is due to the diversity of sports that are found within them. Our writers have taken the time to not only write about the mainstream sports, but also to tell the stories of athletes who compete locally and nationally in the less well-known ones.
In Rainy River, our staff at the Record is much smaller. Editor Ken Johnston has to balance his writing and getting the paper to press by 7 a.m. each Tuesday.
That puts him on the road shortly after 5 a.m., which requires a full Monday of work—with writing often going late into the evening because of events occurring in the community on Monday evening.
The paper then is back early in Rainy River so it can be in the post office boxes by 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Stories are worked on throughout the week for the weekly papers. The Daily Bulletin has our writers out every day. They begin writing the stories for the next paper almost as soon as the last one has been “put to bed” (which usually happens shortly after 1 p.m. each day).
Our staff tries extremely hard to meet and cover the events of the community, but it is impossible for our writers to be in two spots at the same time. In that case, we encourage you to help record the event by taking pictures and submitting them, as well as by sending us a news article either by mail, fax, or e-mail.
At other times, because of production schedules, we are unable to free our reporters to attend staged events. Nor can we always, at the ring of a phone call, be able to dispatch a reporter to cover an event.
If we are given enough advance information about an event or happening, we will do our utmost to have a reporter scheduled to cover it.
We ask for your help in that by letting us know. Call us at 274-5373, or e-mail fftimes@fortfrances.com or me directly at jcumming@fortfrances.com

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