by Lucie Roy
Steven Sandor, author, sportscaster and editor of Avenue magazine since about 2010 was the guest speaker at Rotary last week.
Sandor has written several young adult sports novels, including Replay, Trolled and Stick Pick, as well as a few non-fiction history books. He has another book coming out soon.
The author and editor spoke of his time in Morinville and provided many light-hearted stories on some of the customers he met and how he still has very fond memories of Morinville to this day.
To some of the readers here, Sandor might be familiar – he used to work for the Morinville Mirror for Monsoor Ladha and his wife Anaar from 1993-1995, then went to the Westlock paper.
Sandor spoke of 1993 when he was a kid from Brampton, Ontario who thought he knew everything and was going to save the world and everyone in it. He would be the most famous writer in the history of the world and admitted he was a little bit cocky.
After he graduated in the 1990s, he was in search of work around the country and received a call back from a newspaper in Morinville, Alberta, a place he had never heard of and said why the heck not.
He got on a train because he was moving and wanted to bring his stuff and spoke jokingly of the train going to get you there around the day you should be there.
He was picked up at the train station by the ad salesperson, and they drove to Morinville where they found him an apartment to live in at Deville Estates – soon after he started his job at the Morinville Mirror.
That first day in 1993, thinking he knew everything, it took Sandor about 2-3 days to find out he didn’t know anything.
“Life is a lot different when you get out of school, and they have all the answers. Then you realize that wow, you guys are going to read what I write and I actually get to see you all the time,” Sandor said.
“The funny thing nowadays is media, lots of it on the Internet, people criticize you but don’t see these people, like on Twitter, you wrote this either good or bad, positive or negative.”
He said he mentions this to a lot of journalism students, that when you are in a town like Morinville, you need to go out and have these experiences.
“This is because you do have that kind of accountability that you do not have in the bigger cities simply because that person you wrote that story about, you are going to see that person in the grocery store,” he said. “You will see them walking on the sidewalk, and angry readers know where you live, know where you work and sometimes have no problem showing up at your office to let you know they are really unhappy about what you have written.
“Sometimes they will come back weekly and let you know what they think of you and how you can do better, so you have 6,000 bosses (town population at the time Sandor was here) who are basically letting you know how you are doing from week to week. It is that Accountability that I think is missing a lot from media now.”
Sandor spoke of some of the local news stories written at the time and how the loss of small-town publications is leaving small towns and communities without local news.
“It is so important to support these local media because let’s face it the Toronto Star will not come and do a story from Morinville Town Council,” Sandor said. “They are not going to care so much on what happens. They do not care that much what happens in Alberta period, or other parts of the country, not just us.
“It is so important to have these media places because, for one, they are that foundation for accountability.
“Accountability is important, or has someone stop into your office that may have been affected by something that you wrote or knows that person you wrote about.”
Sandor said he is amazed by the connections he sees from town that has happened and understands the importance of where he has been in terms of what he has done, the formation of his career, and understanding accountability and responsibility.
The kid that kind of knew everything about anything had to re-learn everything and is still kind of learning.