I LEFT my first job quietly except to say goodbye on Facebook. A key contact replied with, ‘good riddance. I mean, um, good luck.’ I was burnt-out. In my resentful 23-year-old mind I vowed not to return to journalism. I would use my savings to finish a book and pursue a love of stand-up comedy.
Yet when the savings inevitably ran out I accepted odd jobs as acting editor for remote WA newspapers. The money I received wasn’t worth the travel costs. When I was broke I knew it was time to commit to full-time journalism. I wanted a job in a mining community, I wanted to work north, and I loved the idea of returning to Queensland. It just so happened the only real job offer may have been the only place in the country to fit that criteria. When the North West Star’s editor at the time, Brad Thompson, phoned on a Friday I played hard to get, asking for the weekend to consider it. I checked where Mount Isa was on the Google Map and was excited by what I saw. I was going to the real Australia. Then that weekend when a snake ate a crocodile at Lake Moondarra I booked the ticket without doubt. A fortnight later I went to the lake to find it.
There has been some dark times, some lonely and empty moments living here. The newsroom itself is entirely different following a transition from a daily. Acting editors came and went with their own ideas and a small core group helped keep this paper going, surrounded by the criticism of the community. I wondered many times, ‘what is the point? Why do I keep doing this?’
I must admit I was in this negative mindset when my current editor Derek Barry arrived, yet he has always shown he is ready to pitch more than his share of the work for his ideas. He reminds us we aren’t a tri-weekly paper, but an online publication that can publish instantly. I have also learned recently that we don’t have to do everything alone. The doors to the pursuit of my own personal happiness have swiftly opened whenever I need something. That’s not preferential treatment. That’s Mount Isa. I leave with sadness, happiness and with my own personal sense of accomplishment. There might be a few ‘good riddance's’ out there and now I hope so. If there isn’t then I did not do my job properly. -Chris Burns, former senior journalist