A tip of the hat

After 23 years with the Chilliwack Progress, reporter Robert Freeman says good-bye.

Last week, for the first time in my 23 years as a reporter at The Progress, I hugged a politician.

I liked it.

But I must quickly add that the hug-ee was B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

She was in town to talk at a women-only luncheon, and in a media interview before the event, an interview that dealt mainly with the differences between men and women voters, she told an anecdote about shaking hands with female executives and entrepreneurs in the lineup at an earlier all-women event.

Suddenly, one of the women asked her, “Do you hug?”

“Of course I do,” the Premier replied, whereupon everybody in the lineup wanted a hug.

“Men would never do that,” Clark said.

The media interview over, Clark was shaking hands all around, and when it came my turn I asked her, as a joke, “Do you hug?”

And she did!

I’m sure the reason behind the hug was my impending retirement, not a blatant attempt to influence my story.

But Chilliwack is a great news town.

Which makes me wonder, what the hell am I doing retiring?

The truth of the matter is, journalism is a young man’s game, and, frankly, the old adrenalin rush of reporting the news just isn’t there for me anymore.

And I might do harm to innocent bystanders if I have to face another deadline.

But I can honestly tell you, I was never bored, not for a moment, in those 23 years, and for that I owe this community.

Because there is always something happening in Chilliwack, something going on for a reporter to sink his (or her) teeth into.

I’ve learned a lot about people, and the craft of reporting: there are no boring stories, just boring reporters.

It’s been my privilege as a reporter to hobnob with the likes of Prime Ministers and Premiers, mayors and MLAs, the notorious and the newsmakers of the day.

But it was the ordinary people caught in the vortex of breaking news, those who stood up on principle for the benefit of others, who impressed me most.

Chilliwack is full of courageous people like that.

So, as I leave The Progress, it is with great respect that I tip my hat to all of you.

Oh, one last thing.

I don’t want to see any politicians lined up outside The Progress expecting an equal-time hug.

It ain’t gonna happen.



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