The Inquiring Reporter

26 April 2013

The Inquiring Reporter
by Clay Stacey
Review by Michelle Shaw
Published by DriverWorks Ink
$20.95 ISBN 978-0-9879643-1-1

Clay Stacey started out in 1960 as a rookie printer sweeping the floor and removing misfed sheets of newsprint from the ink rollers. He soon progressed to reporting and spent his career in numerous small towns throughout Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta, retiring in 2011 after 50 years as a reporter, editor, publisher, and on two occasions, owner, of newspapers such as The Revelstoke Herald, Fort Qu’Appelle Times, Calgary Albertan, Kamloops Daily Sentinel, The Golden Star, and the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.

Stacey’s career is full of colourful and memorable anecdotes. He interviewed prime ministers, provincial premiers and skid row drunks. He helped a First Nations couple seek justice over a land dispute with the federal government and helped raise funds to send a dying child to a faraway city for cancer treatment. His reporting helped to encourage a prominent politician to resign from his cabinet post amidst allegations of fraud and he broke an exclusive story about the discovery of Nazi documents in a dilapidated shack in the BC wilderness.

In looking back at a long and fascinating career it’s tempting to focus only on the high points but Stacey’s book also captures many day-to-day snapshots of small town life, including April Fools’ Day jokes and pie-throwing competitions, parades, rodeos and wrestling competitions and countless tales of pranks that he and his friends (many of whom seem to be RCMP officers) got up to. As a volunteer with the fire department and occasional relief prison guard he was also frequently in danger of being part of the story rather than just reporting it.

I appreciated Stacey’s practical insight into the realities of life as a reporter. The Inquiring Reporter is divided into 60 short stories and is filled with advice learned the hard way – on the job. It’s easy-to-read and is, I think, an invaluable account of a veteran reporter’s life in Western Canada over the past 50 years.


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