Staying connected

Bolander editor Carolyn Frost, left, with Marita Meyer, executive director of the Forum of Community Journalists (FMC), which hosted the awards.

Why is it that Mondays are always when Murphy’s Law strikes?

So… sure enough, halfway through production on Bolander, my modem and landline cut out, and with it my access to all the programmes I need for layout the paper.

An SMS from MWEB then came through, letting me know they were working on the problem, and that the whole neighbourhood was affected. Not good for my stress levels, but a familiar refrain.

So, I headed down with both computers, an array of wires and dongles and all the regular paraphernalia I use in my line of work, and set up “shop” next to the warm embrace of the fireplace at a lovely restaurant on Caledon Street, The Farmhouse – thank heavens for wi-fi.

A stiff coffee under my belt, and I was soon up and running again, with fervent thanks.

Which kind of ties into the theme of my ed’s letter this week – the joys and blessings of connectivity.

How it all happens behind the scenes remains a mystery to me, as the inscrutable world of technology isn’t particularly on the side of my brain I most employ in my daily pursuits.

But the fact that we can all reach each other, at pretty much the push of a button – and share thoughts and information and images – is something for which I am profoundly grateful.

It enables me to do my work, pretty much anywhere (and mobile laptop batteries and 3G cards pick up where Eskom leaves off too) – whether on the move, as I was this past weekend, it so happens.

I went upcountry to Johannesburg for the Excellence in Local Media Awards, accompanied by the Cape Community Newspapers (CCN) editor-in-chief, Chantel Erfort (Bolander is one of the titles in their stable, owned by Independent Media).

We were finalists in a number of the categories, and it was with a pounding heart that I heard the names read out, and such a sense of pride in all those who have made Bolander the beloved product I believe she is, in the Helderberg Basin and the Boland areas.

Norman McFarlane and Murray Williams both place in the top 10 for the Columns category (and Murray was in the top five), and Norman was also a finalist in the Human Interest category.

I was also a finalist in the new category, Editorial Comment – which was such an affirmation to me on a professional and a personal level.

But I’m leaving the best for last… Bolander was awarded first place in the Corporate Free Newspapers – such an immense honour, and validation of what we strive to do every week, 50 editions every year.

I firmly believe that what we do is more than a job, or a career – it is a vocation, one that resonates within the deepest sense, and is part of what motivates us to get out there and connect to the communities we serve (and being seven towns, spread over a very large area, this is no mean feat) – and find the stories that reflect what makes this such a special place to call home.

The judges said that Bolander was the clear winner, for a variety of reasons, and as I went up to receive our trophy and certificate, I held all the contributors in my heart and thoughts, with immense appreciation.

We have our regulars: the multi-facetedNorman; Murray with his Ride of our Lives; historian Francois Verster; and then there are all those who send me wonderful stories and images about all manner of subjects.

And Andrea Powell, who helps with layout and design of pages (and has been with Bolander since the very first edition, which was nine years ago, on April 18) – thank you.

It was time to reflect on the journey that is represented by a community newspaper.

It is like a living organism, ultimately serving as a conduit, connecting people to one another, and I trust inspiring us to be more aware of all the parts that make up the whole, as depicted by the word and concept of community.

So, along with this being a very proud moment in Bolander’s history, it was also very humbling.

Because it is a great privilege to serve one’s community, and bring a sense of teamwork, vision and dedication to all our interactions, and maintain a level of consistency in terms of the content and aesthetics of our newspaper.

So, thank you to all our dear readers, contributors, advertisers, proofreaders at head office, and the distribution team – this is pure synergy, at its best.

Keep it coming, and let’s all stay connected; we’re the stronger for it, and more cohesive.

And congratulations to our colleagues at CCN who were also finalists in the various categories at the award ceremony, well done!

Carolyn Frost – Editor