A lot has changed at the Oamaru Mail since February 2015.
When I started, it was a daily publication with an editor, three general reporters and a sports reporter.
Today, the Oamaru Mail is a weekly publication that covers a massive range of news going on in our community.
From August 2015 until mid-December, I was the paper’s sole fulltime reporter. I’m now with the Otago Daily Times, based in the same office, though I have had to move to the workstation next to my old spot to make room for the new Oamaru Mail reporter.
I can honestly say that since my journalism career began in late 2010, the time I spent with the Oamaru Mail was the most satisfying I have experienced both from a professional and personal perspective.
When it switched from a daily to a weekly, I admit I was apprehensive at first. Given the nature of our industry, change isn’t always a good thing. But those reservations didn’t last long after I got used to the idea of producing stories for each Friday’s paper.
By far the best aspect of writing for a weekly is the volume and variety of things you get to write about. It can be anything from council business to what’s going on at the local kindergarten.
It’s that variety that makes a community newspaper what it is – not necessarily the lifeblood of a community, but an integral part of it.
What I’ve enjoyed most is writing about everyday people at times doing extraordinary things. I’ve met some amazing people along the way and it’s been a real pleasure sharing their stories with the rest of the Waitaki.
A question I get asked regularly is what some of my highlights would be. There are too many to list here but going up in a Cessna with Sven Thelning from the North Otago Aero Club was one (albeit without a memory card in my camera), and another would be heading to Dunedin to watch the Highlanders play the Lions.
I’ll still be doing the odd Oamaru Mail story, so you’ll still see my name occasionally.
There are a lot of people – staff and readers – who have made my time at the Oamaru Mail special. For that, I thank you.
Editor’s note: Daniel Birchfield’s replacement at the Oamaru Mail is Tyson Young. An interview with Tyson will appear in next week’s paper.