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Niagara Falls
Monday, May 20, 2024
Not your average community newspaper
After 19 months on the political beat, Evan Loree is moving on from The Lake Report with nearly 400 bylines. LINDSAY LE BLANC

When you’re surrounded by as much talent as I have for the last year and a half, you tend not to rest on your laurels.

I started at The Lake Report in 2022, picking up where Evan Saunders left off. 

The long-haired muckraker was closing out his contract early to follow his girlfriend to the West Coast and I was to take over a challenging double beat, covering town council and Indigenous affairs. 

I was beady-eyed and fresh out of journalism school with not much more than a couple of bylines in my college paper. 

I assumed my first year on the job would be spent rewriting news releases in a lonely little cubicle at CBC.

Alas, I got lucky. 

My fellow Sheridan College alumnus and life partner Somer Slobodian got her big break in the summer of 2022 when Richard Harley, The Lake Report’s editor-in-chief, gave her a full-time position at his multi-award winning paper.

She put in a good word on my behalf and I found myself joining her in The Lake Report’s newsroom later that summer.

It wasn’t long before we were cranking out stories back-to-back for a weekly print edition in one of the province’s last remaining newsrooms.

Good ol’ Ross Robinson was always quick to point that out when he stopped by the office to poach our snacks and impart nuggets of wisdom.

The rambler and amateur scribbler sells himself short. 

Robinson consistently puts out some of the most original and quirky copy every week. 

And for all his clownish swagger, Robinson often impressed me with his general knowledge of all topics under the sun. 

If only he could learn to send in his photos properly.

Speaking of photos, it’s possible I took yours. If you’re part of this town’s political class, I may have taken it twice.

And if you think those shots are money, let me assure you I was no Dave Van de Laar when I got this job. 

Harley, through months of patient explaining and re-explaining, cut me into the talented candid shooter I am today. 

While Harley made me a photographer, he and Kevin MacLean, the Lake Report’s managing editor, had the tag-team task of making me a journalist. 

Harley has a bloodhound’s nose for a juicy story and MacLean has an eagle’s eye for bad writing. 

Neither were the type to hold back when editing my work.

I can almost imagine MacLean, a veteran of the Toronto Star, muttering under his breath while correcting my spelling from his home office in Chautauqua.

Thanks to them, I know to leave out the jargon, but I still write my stories too long.

Somewhere along the way, I think I learned something about Formula One from Julia Sacco.

The Lake Report’s one-of-a-kind weekend reporter can already fill a library with the things she knew before I did.

She also turns in short, to-the-point copy with fun lede lines every week.

This verbose scribbler can hardly contend with that kind of competition.

Altogther, we were the A-Team — until Slobodian got a Canadian Community Newspaper Award for her investigation into the laundry facilities of migrant farmworkers.

Shortly after that, she put in her two weeks’ notice to embark on a new career, dropping it in Harley’s lap like it was a bombshell news tip.

Veteran Richard Hutton filled her shoes when he left Niagara This Week to join our little operation in September.

It’s easy to feel envious of Hutton’s writing, with their quippy puns, music references and apt metaphors. 

And before you chalk it up to his experience, let me assure you, the old boy is a talent.

Surrounded as I am by such overachievers, it’s hard to stand up for my own ovation.

I will say, though, it has been a privilege to know and serve this town as a daily reporter.

I have been impressed from day one with the meticulous attention of everyday residents to the goings-on in their backyards and have learned much from them.

The capacity of this town to give back, take charge or speak up has been an inspiration. 

In my short — and hopefully, impactful — stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake, it has been a privilege to write about the many characters who fill these streets and historic homes, and to share the stories most meaningful to them.

And to those of you who may know me, watch out for my byline. This probably won’t be the last place you’ll find it.

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