As I think I've told you before, I've been a newspaper guy my entire working life. I started as a reporter up in Kapuskasing in 1999, went on to become the managing editor there and at the community newspaper in Cochrane, before moving my family here to Greater Sudbury in late 2011.
The media landscape was very different in 1999. At small papers, reporters still shot photos on film and developed them in a darkroom.
Newspaper pages were designed on computers, but printed out so the page elements (stories, photos, headlines, ads) could be run through a waxer and pasted onto huge sheets to be shipped to the printer.
Our word processors were MacIntosh Classics and our news website, such as it was, took about four hours to update. The 24-hour news cycle was in its infancy then.
It was a slower, gentler time (OK, not really, but I've got a flow going here). Newspapers didn't do breaking news or video yet. Social media existed, though: We called it (say it with me, kids) "going out for coffee" or "picking up a telephone."
In the intervening years, the news game has changed immensely.
Everything got all jumbled up. Newspapers do video; TV stations publish text-based stories on their websites; radio stations do both. We all do social media, which quickly became an integral part of what it means to cover the news.
In many ways, news media is still suffering through an identity crisis. Everything — from how we make money covering the news to how we cover the news to how we consume the news — is all topsy-turvy. The ball started hours ago and we're still trying on dresses.
Speaking of trying on dresses, here's the cool stuff I was talking about.
At Northern Life and Laurentian Publishing, we're always willing to try something new. Sudbury Living's "Cook For Me" web show was, I'm pretty sure, the first web-based series any Nickel City media company has done. Northern Life's library of original video content numbers thousands of videos now, garnering some five million views and counting.
We've brought you live coverage of fires and big press conferences, and podcasts of political candidates. We made a life-sized cutout of actor Ryan Reynolds, for goodness sake, and carted it around town so people could take pictures with it.
Northern Life has a few new items to roll out that aim to continue that tradition of bringing you today's stories in as interesting a package as we can.
To that end, we're launching two new columns this week to add to our stable of talented columnists — check out the Opinions section of our website, NorthernLife.ca, for the full list.
One delves into the growing sub-culture of vaping. Shops catering to this new-fangled nicotine delivery system are popping up all over the place. Vape culture has its own lingo and conventions. The medical community is divided on its risks and benefits, but vapers (most of them reformed smokers, including this guy right here) credit e-cigarettes with giving them a new lease on life.
Our column by local vape-enthusiast and writer, Matt Boucher, will look at all of that.
The other column that launches this week invites you to follow local father James Depatie as he embarks on his year as a stay-at-home dad.
Even in 2016, only a little more than 10 per cent of fathers stay home to raise kids. And while still uncommon, it's a huge leap from the one per cent of men who were doing it in the 1970s.
It has always annoyed me how little respect fathers seem to get in pop culture today. Too often, we're either Ray Romano or Tim Allen: befuddled, bumbling and, at times, downright incompetent. James' column will not only shatter those tropes, but will also allow you to share in the trials, tribulations and triumphs of parenthood — from a dad's point of view.
Meanwhile, our search for a love guru continues. Northern Life is looking for just the right personality to help you with your relationship questions for a new video series we're planning. Who knows? Perhaps that personality is you. If you're interested, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why. I look forward to hearing from you.
All right, that's it for the plugs and promo. If you're reading this in the newspaper, come visit us at NorthernLife.ca. You'll find more to read there every day of the week than we could ever cram into the weekly paper. If you're reading this online, keep coming back for more.
There's something new at NorthernLife.ca all through the day and evening.
OK, that's it for me. Be careful out there.
Mark Gentili is the managing editor of NorthernLife.ca.