Not so silent E - From radio guy to paper boy


By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

As I have made my way out and about across Neepawa and the surrounding communities over the past few months, I’ve been asked the same question over and over again. Well, actually I’ve been asked two questions, the first being “How the heck do you pronounce your first name?” But, the second question I’ve heard almost as often is “Why did you decide to cross over into newspapers?”

Now for those of you who may be unfamiliar, I have spent just over a decade working in news, but doing so from behind a microphone. I have worked for radio stations in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Neepawa and to many, became known as “the radio guy”. So after 10 years, how does one go from being a radio guy to a paper boy?

Some have guessed that the rationale behind the shift was really pretty simply…money. That’s a pretty good guess as it is true that many radio people live off of Ramen Noodles and Kraft Dinner well into the age bracket where that’s not considered quaint anymore. In fact, my media professor said on the very first day of class, “If you’re getting into the radio business to get rich, you’re better off doing something else. Anything else.”

After a few years, the truth from that statement will begin to settle in and most young news minds will grow tired of the poor newsie lifestyle and ultimately turn to the dark side; Public Relations.  For the most part, a news person and a P.R. person aren’t really that much different, though there is a one very telling difference, one tries to educate and enlighten you with the truth, while the other attempts to indoctrinate and influence you with their version of the truth. Guess which one of these two people drives the more expensive car?  

But it’s not all minimum wage and cynicism. No, there is also a down side to radio and it’s the main reason I jumped from the air waves to the printed page. The truth is far too many stations nowadays are cutting costs and do so in a myriad of ways. One of them is the news. It’s very easy to cut down on what I believe are the five most important minutes of every radio hour to get another Katy Perry “song” in the rotation. It can be tough to track down a story when bean counters from head office are telling your bosses that spending that extra time chasing down a source and uncovering the truth isn’t “effective time management”. You can only fight those types of losing battles for so long before you start to ask yourself "If they don't care, why do I?"

At least with print media, news not only matters, it’s the entire point of the endeavour. It’s called a “Newspaper”, not “Crappy Taylor Swift song and mundane jock talk banter paper”. That’s a refreshing change of pace for me.

That’s not to say, things are perfect with the medium. Over the years, many people decried the ‘death of print’ and while the concept of the daily big city paper might be going the way of the dodo, there’s still a place for your community news. Let’s face it, when’s the last time Brandon or Portage la Prairie talked about what’s happening down your street? And as for Winnipeg, well let’s just say perimeteritis is still alive and well in the Peg.

Nowadays local content is more important than ever and the smart publisher adapts with the times and that means a strong online presence.  That’s pretty much a requirement for both radio and print. People still want to be informed and care about what’s happening in their own back yard. That’s why I’m not worried about the jump to a “dying media.”

Another part of my reasoning for changing jobs is simple and something I have lived my career upon. The day you wake up and can’t look yourself in the eyes when you stare into the mirror is the day you walk away from the job that did that to you. Never compromise integrity.

But the main rationale for the change is the money. Yeah, definitely the money.