Welcome to my nightmares.
Buckle up, folks, this could be a bumpy ride.
After three years with the Sooke News Mirror, the powers that be have lured my column to the Goldstream News Gazette. Following months of protracted but painless negotiations, publisher Michelle Cabana and editor Katherine Engqvist have grudgingly agreed that the Rickter Scale will run once a week, rain or whine.
Before you reach for a pen, pencil or crayon in horror or start pounding away on a keyboard in a frothing fit of fury, please be advised that the opinions unfurled in this space in no way reflect anything associated with Black Press.
My history as a reporter at the Gazette, on and off again since the turn of the century, has either provided an insight into the inner pulse of all things West Shorian, or, as some of my regular readers might argue, speaks volumes about the state of journalism in general and community newspapers in particular.
You will get to be the judge as the Rickter Scale attempts to find its legs. What has kept me in the game so long is the opportunity to share stories about the people who make this neck of the landscape such an intriguing area to cover. One of the aims of this space is to include a ramble on what makes this area such a special place to live or ply your trade, based on the leads you fire our way.
Topics may range from a playful poke at the bride to my passion for sports, the blues or the occasional dump on Trump – basically, whatever moves me enough to cobble something together that’s at least worth the time you invest in reading it.
Cooking up an open-ended spread of topics is like putting together a menu with an endless variety of choices. You may not have a taste for everything I serve, but there should be something tasty enough to chew on to keep irregular diners coming back for seconds.
I’ve had the good fortune of working with a great string of editors who knew how to reel me in when my lines tangled, and I look forward to hearing your opinions on what you like or loathe. Feedback has ranged from “you suck” and “there’s five minutes of my life I’ll never get back” to the odd backhanded compliment. My son, Chris – I won’t use his last name to protect his identity – lists “there was absolutely nothing of any redeeming value in Rick Stiebel’s column” as his favourite first line in a recent letter to the editor.
If I had to describe my style on most things mainstream, it would be left leaning, with enough redneck mixed in to balance my proclivity for pinko-tainted prose. Add a liberal love of alliteration to the pallet and fasten your seat belts. Hope you enjoy the journey.
(Don’t forget to send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.