Switching gears

Community

Long-serving journalist announces retirement

One of Pictou County’s longest working journalists has filed his last newspaper story.

Steve Goodwin, who had been a reporter for The Advocate for the past 20 years, has retired after nearly five decades as a journalist.

Goodwin began his career in the newspaper industry at his hometown newspaper, the Amherst Daily News, in 1973 when he was 24 years old. In those days, he laughs, the modern technology that drives journalists and newsrooms today was just a dream.

“We had manual typewriters,” he shrugs. Darkrooms were prevalent in newsrooms then as was film from a bulk loader, teletype and Linotype machines, rotary-dial telephones and old-fashioned paper and pens.

Over his years in the business, the award-winning Goodwin has virtually reported on everything — from sports, which is where he got his start — to hard news, breaking news, community events, court, politics, features writing, not to mention photography and videos. “Everything you would do in a community newspaper.”

He came to Pictou County in 1976 and started at what was then The Evening News which was, at that time, a daily newspaper; he was hired mainly for sports and it was a topic for which the sports fan excelled.

After 22 years there he moved to The Pictou Advocate newspaper where he did general reporting then quickly moved into sports.

“I attribute part of my success at The Advocate to reinventing myself and the company giving me the chance to do so,” Goodwin offers. “Before I joined The Advocate I was unsure of my future in journalism.”

In true community newsperson-style, there is not one particular area of interest he enjoyed more than any other. “I liked it all. I liked watching all sports. I didn’t have a favourite sport to play or a favourite sport to cover or watch on TV. I liked everything.”

He is quick to answer when asked about the highlights of his career. Among other things, “being involved right from the start in the Johnny Miles Marathon. By the time I arrived they were getting ready for their third and it was growing. Running in general was growing in the province but Pictou County, for my money, had more great runners than any other athletes in the county and more great runners than any other place in the province.”

And several events over the past 50 years stand out for Goodwin. “The National Legion Curling in 1977 at the Bluenose was a real charge. And a Nova Scotia team won; it was really exciting. Since then the Sobeys Slams and other international event they had at the Wellness Centre … I have a lot of room for curling because of the MacLellan Cup and the fact that my uncle curled in that with a club in Moncton.”

Watching young athletes grow and develop is something Goodwin enjoys doing. He has watched while Derek Walser, Jon Sim and Colin White moved up through the levels in their early days of hockey and into the NHL. “And I got to see them all play.”

Goodwin has always fed off the energy of others and says he will miss that the most. “As soon as you stop, you drop. There are lots of times I was tired but I’d go out to cover an assignment and then I’d be jacked! Their energy was infectious and it re-charged my battery big time.”

He also drew energy and strength simply from having a conversation with people.

“An editor I had in Amherst taught me a very valuable lesson. He said you never know what kind of a story is going to catch people. It could be innocuous but it means everything to that reader, so put as much value into the small stories as the big stories.”

That was valuable advice and it was something he carried with him as he approached every assignment he covered and every story he wrote. “I always say good stories write themselves, I really have nothing to do with it.”

Over the course of his career Goodwin had the fortune of covering nine Canada Games — six winter and three summer. “I really enjoyed that.”

He has received many awards over the years, the most notable are the National Editorial Award and an induction in the media division of the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame in 2014. “It meant as much to be indicted with that cast as it meant to be inducted at all.”

In addition to his years as a journalist, Goodwin also found time to give back to others in service. He has spent many hours dedicated as a volunteer for the United Way both in Amherst and New Glasgow, the Pictou County Help Line, Rotary Club of Pictou, and the Windsor Elms long-term care facility.

In his retirement, Goodwin has drawn accolades from fellow long-term journalist and Advocate columnist Hugh Townsend who has known Goodwin for some 50 years.

“Having spent 67 years as a reporter, columnist and editor, I’ve worked alongside — and competed against — literally hundreds of journalists in Nova Scotia. I’ve always taken a keen interest in their careers, whether they represented newspapers, television outlets or radio stations.

“I’ve watched them at work, taken a personal interest in their resulting efforts and, firmly believe that, for dedication, loyalty and fairness to employers and the people he was covering, Steve Goodwin never had to take a back seat to anyone in the media,” Townsend lauds.

“Our paths crossed many, many times at sports activities from Pictou County to Antigonish to Halifax and wherever news was happening. His familiar face always displayed a love for what he was doing, his personality made him a pleasure to be around and, always, there was that recorder or notebook in one hand, that familiar camera in the other.”

Goodwin will be remembered as a valued and hardworking colleague whose commitment and dedication is commendable. He will not be hanging up his pen but will dive into this next chapter by writing his first book.

Laughing about his years in ‘the business’ Goodwin quips: “There isn’t enough room in the paper for everything, unless I contribute installments to the book or books I plan to write.”

So if you want to know more, buy the book when it comes out!