Farewell and thank you for reading

Shannon Thompson. Photo: ODT files
Shannon Thompson. Photo: ODT files
Three years ago I walked in to The News offices for my first day working as a reporter for Allied Press. It was nerve-racking to say the least — at Journalism School the Otago Daily Times was held in high esteem, with hard-hitting news stories and strong imagery.

The idea of being considered good enough to have my work featured in its pages seemed far out of reach.

In 2005, I did my first journalism placement here at The News, learning the rhythms of community news.

Back then the ODT reporters were based in the upstairs offices, and I was given strict instructions not to let them know what I was working on in case they ran with the story first, leaving our community pages empty.

Things have certainly changed.

Now our reporting team is united, removing the competition from one another and writing for multiple Allied Press titles. Here in Central Otago our team regularly write for three publications — The News, Wanaka Sun and the ODT — and we even sit together in the newsroom.

The industry is changing — that is a given — and what the future of it looks like is anyone’s guess. There are definite trends emerging.

A digital-first approach is starting to challenge traditional media formats and television, radio and print are all adapting — some faster than others.

But one thing that doesn’t change is the need for our communities to be informed and celebrated.

There are a lot of stories worthy of telling here in Central Otago and Upper Clutha.

I have been privileged to cover a myriad of events and have quality yarns these past years — the final Brass Monkey rally, the Merino Shears, Pasifika celebrations, the first visit to Central by the Governor-General. As well as what has to be one of my favourites, Naseby’s role in an international dispute between Russia and the United States.

Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapons test causing seven astronauts on the International Space Station to take shelter in spaceship capsules in case they needed to make an escape

Debris from the satellite destroyed by the Russian missile was first detected by LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar in Naseby. Talk about better work stories.

I’ve attended fires and floods, chased snow in the Maniototo, attended sporting matches, motorsport and a Nasa balloon launch, sat through many, many council, community board and public meetings. I’ve even climbed cliffs and kayaked Lake Dunstan just to get a photo.

I’ve also met some amazing people who are passionate about this corner of the world — that includes the most incredible team of journalists who are dedicated to storytelling here in the region.

Despite the long hours and the not so fun parts of the job, I have loved every second of it.

So that’s why this week’s editorial is probably my hardest to write.

Tomorrow, after three years with Allied Press and 14 months of doing this role (not so) remotely I am finishing up, making this my final edition of The News.

There will be a few more stories from me filtering through in the next few weeks, but I will be leaving you in the very good hands of our team.

Thank you for sharing your stories with me — it has been my utmost pleasure to be a part of telling them and I look forward to keeping up with what is going on in the region through the The News digital edition.

— Shannon Thomson, Central Otago bureau chief