Another year with plenty to savour

By Ross Pringle


As seems the norm at this time, my mind has wandered to the past year and the stories and developments that stood out.

FULL EXPOSURE

In January Wanganui hosted one of the more significant events of the year. With a cast of hundreds of lovingly restored vintage vehicles, their passionate owners and even a global celebrity, the VCC Rally 2012 was the perfect way to kick-start a year.

The newspaper was at the forefront of coverage before, during and after with many exclusive angles, photo spreads and a souvenir liftout to commemorate the great occasion. The event showcased what could be achieved in this fine city.

MOTHER NATURE'S FURY

We couldn't say we weren't warned - but as much as we knew the wind was coming, we were powerless to prevent the destruction wrought by the gales in March.

Huge swathes were cut across South Taranaki and Wanganui, with Patea and Waverley badly hit.

I doubt I'll ever forget the sound of the wind, and the fear that the house would succumb or a tree land on us. Millions of dollars in damage was caused and people had to survive for days, weeks in some cases, without power.

What was impressive was the way our small team mobilised to get the stories, pictures and information readers craved, and then get the finished paper out across a network still littered with debris.

SMW CAUSES A STINK

Perhaps a viable candidate for person of the year based on the air time and column centimetres devoted to his placement here. Stewart Murray Wilson garnered so much publicity for Wanganui, more than any other person throughout the year surely, only perhaps not the type we wanted. As issues go, they don't come much bigger. There was always going to be an immediate extreme reaction and covering the saga we had to take care to accurately reflect the serious concern of some sectors while also taking care not to over-dramatise events or demonise the man more than he had been already. As we suspected would happen, the initial frenzy died down, letters and comments became more moderate. This one isn't over yet, though, with fears of others who have committed similar offences being placed here and the uncertainty of what happens when Wilson's parole term ends.

SAMARITAN STANDOUT

It would have to rate as one of the sensational stories of the year, not least because of the phenomenal response. As gestures go, making up the $10 shortfall in Janet Hartell's groceries wasn't the biggest thing to happen, but Jim Johnston's spur of the moment gesture had a lasting impact. Now the two are firm friends and what started as a posting on the Chronicle's Facebook page became one of the stories of the year, no doubt inspiring others to similar good deeds. We also covered the appreciation many felt towards the courtesy shown to a funeral cortege, something contributors said was sadly lacking in other parts of the country.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL ...

Other highlights or milestones were reached during 2012. The newspaper changed its format for Monday-Friday editions, one of the most significant changes in the 155-plus years the Chronicle has been published. As well, there were upgrades to our online offering. We also tried to Keep It Local and "celebrated" Wanganui and throughout the year covered the many highs and lows of our community.

Health again proved a hot topic with debate over natural therapies, maternity changes and more, while our council battled to deal with earthquake-prone buildings ... and the year ended with a bad smell hanging over the city.

It makes you wonder what 2013 has in store. Whatever it is, you can rely on the Chronicle to keep you up to date.

Feedback: editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

- Wanganui Chronicle

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