Sunday, 29 December 2013

Malette exits Intelligencer after 34 years

Belleville Intelligencer's Chris Malette exits with Sun Media buyout after 34 years, but will continue column.

Chris MaletteThis is his farewell column as a staffer:

Desk cleared out?


Office supply room looted for box of paper clips?


Men's room key turned in?


Adios muchachos! I'm out of here.

After 34 years at The Intelligencer and 35 playing with ink and paper, your humble scrivener is calling it a day. The big leap, the sayonara, last call, you name it – I took a package, as they say.

There came the dreaded announcement some weeks back that Sun Media/Quebecor was laying off 200 in a round of “reductions,” to help the corporate bottom line. 

Long story short – I'm leaving and someone is staying as a result. I don't want a hero cookie for it, it was my time to go. I'd watched as our newsroom was hollowed out of some storied journalists over the past several years and was sad, truly sad, that I was the last one standing from the crazy, brawling, bawling, laughing family that was here when I shuffled in the door at 45 Bridge Street E. in 1979.

So, here it is. My last column as an Intelligencer employee. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank a few people along the way, not the least of whom is the late Myles Morton for the great atmosphere he fostered here for those many years he and his family ran The Intelligencer. Myles was generous in ways I can't begin to describe and helped cement many journalists' decisions to keep at the craft. There are far few, if any, like him in the game any more.

As mentioned, people like Linda O'Connor, Ady Vos, Henry Bury, Ron Hiuser, Brian O'Meara – all the 'lifers' as we called ourselves – long since left. My old pal Bones, Paul Svoboda, is still here so I'll pass the torch from failing hands, to cadge the Habs credo. Here, Lurleen, Vachon, Meeks (over from Trenton with Kuglin) Richards, Hendry, Miller, Mountney and Lessard are left to carry on, too. Bonne chance, mes amis!

I have worked, as I said, for bazillionaire Ken Thomson, Conrad Black's Hollinger, Osprey under Michael Sifton and Quebecor under Pierre Karl Paledeau. I have been the play thing of multi-millionaires for all of my working life and like most of us in the craft we're lucky to have a camper trailer or RRSP over five figures, as a result.

C'es la guerre. None of us got into this game to make it rich and the owners know it. They knew they could pay us poorly, but those of us with a passion for news and the life of listening to your stories and telling your tales of triumph and tragedy would do it for nickels. And nickels we got.

So, I'll be toiling in words, probably, until they plant me or the noodle goes from too many raps on the rugby pitch, but it's early days to worry about that.

For now, it's time to sit back with a mug of nog and ponder a life well spent with pen and paper, having covered years of the zoo that is city hall, walked among the famine stricken in Somalia, the wretched poor of Haiti, the hurricane battered of Honduras, the war weary of Bosnia – it's been a life-changing experience and not one many reporters from smallish dailies such as ours ever got to cover. I have been blessed and made a better person for the suffering I have seen around the world as a result.

But, I have been blessed, too, with the love of family and the ability laugh long and hard at my own foibles and the camaraderie of a coterie of great friends, so, yeah, I'll be fine.
I'll miss most, however, you, the readers who have kept me going all these years.

Oh, one more thing? I'll see you all in the new year. I might be gone from a parking spot here at the paper, but they're letting me play in this space each week!

Cheers, until then.

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