Mountain Scene (hopefully) reflecting the community it serves

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It was about 2am at Barmuda when this sozzled local came up to me and said: “That story you guys wrote about me a while ago…that was f..ked.” 

I replied that I thought we’d handled things fairly. 

Mr Sozzled had a slightly different take on it, saying: “You’re a tosser.” 

“Yeah, well, opinions vary,” I replied. 

We argued back and forth for a bit, basically getting nowhere, only getting more heated. 

I pulled out one of my business cards and jammed it into his shirt pocket, telling him to call me during the day at a more appropriate time and I’d be happy to discuss it. 

I’m not sure that went down particularly well, given he pulled my card out and threw it on the floor. Not expecting a call any time soon. 

To be fair, the guy had a point. It wasn’t one I agreed with, but without going into the details I ran the scenario by a few people and they could understand where he was coming from but could also understand why we’d handled things the way we had. 

Welcome to hard news in a small town. 

Everybody’s got an opinion and you’re working and living in close quarters with the people you’re writing about. At times, it can get a bit messy. 

Chances are if someone’s got a beef about something that’s been published, they’ll run into you and be able to get it off their chest face-to-face – which is fair enough and I usually welcome it, though generally not at 2am at a leaving do, but such is life. 

It’s not an easy line to walk when you work for a bold community tabloid that prides itself on covering its beat without fair or favour, whether the subject of stories are advertisers, friends or, at times, the owner and former Skyline Enterprises chairman Barry Thomas. 

So I must tip my hat to my long-serving colleagues. Mountain Scene editorial team veterans Frank Marvin, formerly a co-owner, and indefatigable chief news hound Philip ‘Scoop’ Chandler have done 30 and almost 28 years, respectively – and they’re still going strong, with (most) people still returning their calls. 

And administration boss Glenys Stewart has survived 28 years on the front counter, the frontline of Mountain Scene handling any trials and tribulations with aplomb. 

It’s been heartening – as Mountain Scene marks its 40th this week with a special edition recounting four decades of local news coverage – to read the reflections on the paper from members of the community. Not all are pats on the back, but most are (in part) and as usual we’ve run the feedback verbatim… good, bad and ugly. 

At the end of the day, I believe Mountain Scene does a decent job of reflecting the community it’s grown up in. 

We might be a bold, at times inappropriate, idiosyncratic and effervescent read, but a big part of that is due to the fact you’re a bold, at times inappropriate, idiosyncratic and effervescent lot. 

In the words of local former golf professional and Wakatipu High board member Greg Turner: “Has any local paper been more synonymous with its locale than Mountain Scene? I doubt it. Always informative, usually interesting, occasionally frustrating – rather like its readers!” 

Cheers Greg…best wishes for your golf career’s revival.