Through the Lens – “What do you do?”

A photo of me, taken by a colleague, circa 2015

“A fistfight on Clark Street is more important to our readers than a war in Europe.”

This statement made by Leo Lerner founder of Chicago’s Lerner Newspapers which can be seen on the walls of many newsrooms around the world to this day.

Sault Fire Services at APEX fire – April 30, 2021

It’s great, written in black and white, about what something should mean to someone. Put it into action, what is a community journalist, or in my case, a community multimedia reporter?

It’s a question I’m asked weekly, if not almost daily, “What exactly do you do?” and it’s not easily defined. 

I reached out to one of my mentors Veronique Mandal and posed this question to her. Mandal has decades in the newspaper industry and is now the Journalism Program Coordinator at St. Clair College in Windsor, my alma-matter.

“You report on everything that effects the people in your community, at the government level, at the business level, all of the interesting things that the people are doing,” said Mandal. “If you have a community of 20,000 people, you have 20,000 potential stories.”

To give some perspective on that, let me share a bit of my background.

Sault Police Services surrounding a home in the west end.

In the almost 10 years I’ve done this job “officially”. I have been a managing editor, owner of my own publication, freelance photojournalist, magazine writer and much more. I have a degree in journalism, media convergence, police foundations and 1,000’s of hours of training in multiple facets of my field. Training provided by individuals who have done the job for decades.

So What does that mean in the real world?

  • It means getting up at 2 a.m. for a news story, not new to me, although it may be new to the Sault.
  • It means hearing out victims of crime for hours on end, and being able to share what they really want to say.
  • It means the difference between what really matters and what is fluff in any situation.
  • It means being available anytime, for stuff happening in our community.

It means being your voice, the voice of the reader.

Being the voice of the people first has been lost by multiple organizations over the past 10 years during the “death of journalism”.

Peter and Rob Greve take off from Pine Street Marina for the beginning of their trip to Wawa, August 4, 2021 (Dan Gray/

Playing fast and loose with the facts is the name of the game on social media. Frequently, I won’t be first when it comes to the story, it will be on multiple platforms before I get it up, but I do take pride in being accurate.

Working for a community based next generation online multimedia publication with a passionate group of people, we have one goal everyday, to be the voice of the people.

Doing that leads me down many roads, meeting many people, at all hours of the day and night, anywhere they happen to be.

Sault Police Services Chief Hugh Stevenson gets smoked with a water balloon in Jamestown, July 18, 2021 (Dan Gray/

Each event, crime, collision, fire and even a lemonade stand is a potential story, or multiple stories.

I will never get to all 73,000+ stories in Sault Ste. Marie, it’s not feasibly possible. My goal and promise to Saultites is to be available when you are, for your story, and to bring that story to life with integrity, compassion and respect.

Just the way I see it, Through the Lens.


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