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The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News
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Welcome Back

Web posted on November 07, 2019

Welcome back. The Fountain Pen and its sister publications in Guelph, Wellington, Grey, Bruce, Dufferin and parts of Perth Counties has ended its hiatus.

My name as you can see at the top of the column is Bob Rutter. This column, the Rutter Report, is the same one I used when I produced and hosted a cable TV civic affairs program on Maclean-Hunter Cable TV. It's hiatus is much longer than The Fountain Pen's, however.

Some readers may recall me from the cable show; or more likely from my 22 years I spent as District Editor and reporter-photographer with the Daily Mercury.

My journalism background also includes freelancing for the three Toronto dailies, corresponding for the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and as managing editor at three weekly newspapers Halton Hills Herald, Fergus-Elora News-Express and the Hanover Post.

My greatest enjoyment was as a reporter for over the 14 years when I covered the University of Guelph, the Ontario Agricultural College and the Ontario Veterinary College. As The Mercury's farm writer, I covered agricultural issues that impacted on The Mercury's rural readership.

Other beats I covered included police and courts and city hall. My experiences on the police and court beat led directly to a volunteer commission as a co-writer of the Guelph Police Service history. As a past president of the Guelph Humane Society, I also wrote a history of the society for its centennial.

My background in journalism, and newspapers in particular, has been extensive and enlightening.

It began when I was stationed in Lahr, West Germany, where I was sports editor of Der Kanadier, the Canadian Forces weekly newspaper in Europe, and a volunteer on-air host of the Canadian Forces Network radio station's daily country and western show. (At the time, CFN was part of the CBC's Northern and Armed Forces Service.)

As you can see from my background, I was born as they said back in the ancient days of manual typewriters with ink in my veins! I'm delighted to return to something I missed greatly over the past 15 years due to various health issues: writing for an audience and trying to keep alive the spirit of critical thinking in our communities.

And that, I dare say, is something I hope to develop over time with the publication you are reading today.

I am aware of the difficult challenges that lay ahead; but challenges can be overcome.

But enough about me. What I wish to hear is about you. More specifically your communities and their people and activities.

High on my priority list is efforts to promote community awareness. We all have a vested interest in our local communities. I urge readers with similar desires to partner with me. I'm certain there are individuals willing to contribute not just upcoming events but items about those events and other activities that are newsworthy.

Newspapers, whether online or traditional, thrive on showcasing the pride in their special events and various individual accomplishments. A point to remember: "Names Make News", especially when paired with a photo.

During The Fountain Pen and its sister publications early months of revival, we will have to rely upon the generous nature of our contributors. There are, however, personal benefits that can include a greater understanding of ourselves and our communities; and an emotional satisfaction that can accrue from being involved.

The items submitted, however, will be reviewed for clarity, grammar and, especially, for libel and other legal issues that can and sometimes do arise. Those of you who have never written for publication before can easily overcome the dread of legal challenges by remembering an adage used by newspapers many years ago: "When in doubt, cut it out." I'm not certain the concept still exists in this day of instant digital communication.

And, one word of caution should anyone try to become Canada's Wolf Blitzer: what you see, hear and view on American media cannot in some cases be used for publication of similar reports in Canada. There are different laws in both countries, not the least of which is based on more than 200 years of legal precedent in the United States that supports a more transparent news-gathering freedom of the press.

While the Charter of Rights and Freedoms give journalists in this country similar protection to that of the United States, it has only been around for 37 years. Challenges and legal decisions have been varied. We have to play catch up; await the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on various questions regarding freedom of the press and freedom of speech before we reach the stature of our friends to the south.

All that said, there is always room for another good tale to be published. Remember, everyone is a candidate to become the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein. (Remember Watergate? The movie All the President's Men?)

All that remains is to meet the challenge and work together to forge a renewed spirit and to achieve the lofty goals I envisage.

That's it. Until next time.

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