November 13, 2020

Taking chances, rolling the dice

Things are looking up at Nipissing Junction with a casino on the horizon ... "up" like historic deficits and debt.

My new job at BayToday.ca has been keeping me hopping this fall as I stick-handle a quarterly magazine to the press before December rolls along.

I hadn't expected to get back into mainstream news reporting again, I kinda liked the A Bit of the Bay magazine gig mixed in with various communication consulting projects.

But, like many, the Good Ship Dale felt the turbulant economic waters COVID-19 churned up. Reducing the print publicaiton from monthly to quarterly was a key survival move. Having Tourism North Bay sign on for a multiple-insertion newsletter made a big difference in being able to float the boat. See the Summer Edition cover to get the joke.

And when BayToday, the Nugget's nemesis for most of my 18 years there, offered me the Local Journalism Initiative position I was intrigued. The key was being able to keep the North Bay-centric nostalgia magazine running while being a reporter covering small towns outside the city. And it's a good time to have a steady job doing what you know.

Truth be told, the Spring, Summer and Fall editions were the only ones of the 10-issue collection that didn't cost us any money to produce. I even made some commissions and production fees out of the tourism, newsletter deal. 

So far, I've been able to write a few good pieces at BayToday, at least one or more for each of the communities between Mattawa and West Nipissing. Some hard news and a few feel-good features added for good luck.

Bonfield's 'state of emergency' includes lawsuits

Long-time Phelp fire chief retires

Alouette school bus drivers join United Steelworks union

More dogs and cats allowed in West Nipissing

Mattawa's new CAO/Treasurer first woman to hold position

Municipal Affairs urged to intervene in West Nipissing

East Ferris balks at major road upgrade ... for now

Island blaze re-ignites East Ferris fire service issue

Drive-by birthday, weekend at hunt camp brightens up lonely time for Nipissing First Nation 'historian'

Camp Tillicum's future is rooted in the past

Opposition mounting against Village of Hope development

It would have been extra special to be able to write columns and do podcasts. That was my biggest hope, putting all my hard-earned multimedia skills together at the same time. I've done a lot of self-education with sound and video editing these past couple of years. Unfortunately, the LJI program is federally funded and opinion journalism isn't part of the deal. I get it. 

We did publish two columns that were meant to set the stage for more in-depth opinionating before the plan changed.

Dave Dale Beyond North Bay

Beyond North Bay: Never a dull day as a story teller

On the upside, I've managed to introduce the practice of adding audio clips into the online pieces. I think it adds a nice little touch to the story-telling. 

My hand is a bit stiff for taking notes these days so I like to record interviews now anyway. I ship the files off to Sonix for digital transcription and get back rough files within 15 minutes. It costs a fair bit annually, something like $180 Canadian plus $10 an hour of recording. I use Audacity to edit the recordings down to just the real meat so I save on the minutes. Often I only have about two or four minutes of MP3 files, so $10 for 10 stories transcribed isn't so bad.

The transcriptions are not perfect. You have to go back and fix things but the Sonix program has an online platform designed for it with each paragraph time coded lots of options for labeling speakers, common word over-rides and find searches, etc. I don't do much of that though. Usually I just download a word doc and maybe print it out, circling key quotes for the story and just pasting them into place after a polish.

Great system that works well with the "working from home" thing going full bore. Good thing for internet, as crappy as it can be at times.

Next thing on the list, I'm hoping to introduce some video story-telling into the mix, just to make it more interesting. Village Media isn't focused on that right now but I hope to figure out a way to slip in short clips that don't burn too much time or clog up the platform with massive files. 

Feels good working in a forward direction, that's for sure. Now more than ever.

Here are a few more links to stories done for BayToday as the LJI regional reporter:

Lake Talon launch needs some TLC

Literacy ‘the soul of growth in the 21st Century’

Letter promotes ‘hatred,’ OPP investigating, Bonfield mayor says

Drag-racing noise still an issue in Bonfield

Empty bottle returns keeping Callander Legion afloat

NetSpectrum moving forward with fibre plan in East Ferris

Local collaboration, innovation celebrated as face shield goes into production

Orange Shirt Day a timely event for Nipissing First Nation

Support for Mi'kmaq shown in Sturgeon Falls

Flick of a switch to save lives at Callander intersection

Volunteers, donations rescue family during time of uncertainty 

P.S. Also noteworthy in my life, an old flame rekindled beginning September 2019, the night before the Magic for Hospice fundraiser and two weeks before my Dad passed away. It's a long-distance affair peppered with a rendezvous about once a month plus daily interactions. Two very independent people with our own lives to lead with many miles between us. Her plan was to retire and continue traveling the world until COVID-19 threw a wrench into the spokes. There's no permancy to what we have and it's clearly all about living in the now. It works for both of us. She doesn't use social media and is a very private person or I'd be driving her bananas with Facebook posts. But once in a while, you'll catch a glimpse of her in a reflection of my very public life. 

Remember foks, all we have is one life and I figure there's another 20 years for me to do my thing and tell some stories whatever way I can. So, that's what I'm doing one day at a time.

For those who read this far, here's a bonus prize link to one of my YouTube videos and click here to see the full directory Dave Dale's Small Town Times channel.

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