One last deadline

Integrity is a lofty word in the world of journalism. But it’s one that fits Robert Freeman like a well-worn coat.

After 23 years with the Chilliwack Progress, Freeman retires Thursday.

He began his career pulling newspaper clippings from the morgue for staff reporters at the Pacific Press library. The ink that stained his hands soon sank into his veins, and once there, a career in journalism was the only remedy.

Twenty-three years in any industry is a long time, but Freeman has never lost the enthusiasm that first infected him. It wasn’t just the thrill of the chase, but the desire to get it right – to give readers the credit to make up their own minds on complex issues once both sides had been presented.

For that he has earned the confidence of a public that all too often sees journalism as an agenda-driven pursuit.

He’s also gained the trust of the people he’s covered – the politicians and the pundits, the neighbours and the store clerks, the cops and even the criminals. They’ve come to appreciate his fairness, his frankness, and his ability to put people at ease, either on the phone or face-to-face. He’d ask the tough questions, but record the answers fairly and honestly.

Freeman’s the first to admit he’s made mistakes – none of us in this business are free of that. But he saw each as a lesson that has helped him do his job better – to tell stories and reveal a world that some of us might otherwise have never noticed.

“Isn’t this fun?” he would ask suddenly, breaking the tension of a newsroom nearing deadline.

Yes, Robert, it has been fun.

And all of us at the Chilliwack Progress thank you for it.

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