The Nelson Star has a new editor. Colin McGarrigle arrived this week from Regina, bringing with him a wealth of experience in community newspapers and television news.
He replaces Greg Nesteroff, who was the Star’s editor from February, 2015, until last month.
Most recently, McGarrigle was as a senior producer at CBC television in Regina. Before that, he spent many years in Calgary and Edmonton as the editor of the lifestyle magazine Avenue, and as executive producer at City TV and Breakfast Television.
“At City TV we won best news and information series in Alberta, over people like Global and CTV,” he says.
Before that, he reported for, and edited, community newspapers in Melfort, Saskatchewan, and Timmins, Ontario, and went back to Ireland, his birthplace, for a few years as editor of The Investor, a financial magazine.
But his community news experience started in BC as reporter and editor at newspapers in Invermere and Burns Lake.
“That’s where I cut my teeth in community journalism, realized the importance of local content, did some investigative reporting, and learned the importance of getting involved in the community,” McGarrigle says.
He says he’s been involved as a community volunteer ever since, in all the places he’s lived, including being a volunteer firefighter in Burns Lake and Invermere. He says his community orientation started in Ireland.
“There is a real sense of community and family there. The community is seen as a family, and I think I was brought up with a sense of helping others.”
He’s glad to be moving to Nelson because “I am a small town guy. I grew up in a town of about 10,000 people in Ireland. I miss that sense of community. Far too often in big cities people don’t talk to neighbours or help each other out, whereas in an area like Nelson, besides the aesthetics and the outdoor opportunities, there is a real sense of community and I have missed that. It is important for my kids to be around this kind of community as well.”
McGarrigle’s sons are 10 and 13. McGarrigle says he’s interested in many community issues including affordable housing.
“Maybe there is some way I can help with that, and I believe in proper nutrition for people who can’t afford it. Maybe there is something I can do there. I want to continue my tradition of being involved in the community and being involved in charity work.”
He’s also planning to play tennis, spend time on the ski slopes, and head out on his mountain bike. And he’s an experienced soccer player.
Asked if moving into an unknown new community to edit the newspaper is daunting, he says there are some advantages to being an outsider.
“I can come in and give unbiased and unfettered view of the news and issues in the community. It is an important role of a journalist, to be unbiased, and if you don’t know as much of the history as someone who has been here 20 years, you don’t have preconceived notions of what is right and wrong.
“It is is going to take a lot of work on my part to get up to speed on some of the issues, but my goal here is to provide readers in the Nelson with a new way of looking at things and provide excellent local content that is interesting, informative and entertaining.”
Asked about the uncertain future of community newspapers, McGarrigle says he’s optimistic about papers in more remote communities like Nelson that are not overwhelmed by newspapers from nearby larger centres.
“You might see a resurgence of community newspapers in the coming years. While news is available online in a larger sense, you are not going find a lot of local news on your National Posts or Globes about Nelson or the region. The Nelson Star is the go-to place for local news. We can provide news that is hyper-local. Where else will they get information about what is happening at city council or the local courts, and about what kinds of initiatives are going on. I would not count community newspapers out just yet.”
McGarrigle has now spent several days on the steep learning curve of the technology, systems, people, and issues in the Nelson Star newsroom.
“I am honoured to be in the community,” he says, “and it is a role I take very seriously and very humbly. I’m looking forward to meeting everybody in Nelson and providing a world class newspaper on a local level.”