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A tough goodbye to a paper I love

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

I’ve never been one for goodbyes. Yet, the time has come.

For the past four years I have covered this city in all of its nooks and corners. From my early days writing about the tenant battles in south Oshawa, to following the many, many issues that have erupted during this council term, to profiling the countless amazing individuals who call this place home and have dedicated their lives to making this place better. In my four years here, I’ve seen a lot.

I’ve also had the chance to grow as a reporter, a writer, an interviewer and as a human being during my time here. The accolades that I’ve received for my writing and reporting during my tenure would not have been possible without the unwavering support of an amazing publishing team, and everyone at The Express office who works hard each week to get this paper to press.

It’s with a heavy heart that my fingers tap across this keyboard for the last time for The Oshawa Express.

A new opportunity has come knocking, and in journalism, you learn early on to trust your gut. If you sense that something is a story, it probably is, despite what other people say. This is one of those times. I know this opportunity will continue to take me where I want to go on this incredibly exciting (sometimes frustrating, sometimes head-shakingly silly) career path I have chosen.

Despite my departure, I assure you that this paper is left in good hands. Our reputation for being the go-to place for news, investigations and the real look at what is happening across Oshawa will continue, and this newspaper will continue to live up to its model of being well written and well read.

To me, The Express embodies everything that a newspaper and journalism in the modern era needs to be. It needs to be truthful, honest, and in-depth. Each and every week I, along with everyone else at The Express, have strived to deliver a product that entertains, informs, and most importantly, holds those in power to account. To me, that is the most valuable lesson I have learned in the last four years, and one that will form the foundation of my ethic and skill set moving forward.

This community has given me a lot, and if I were to leave a few words behind (aside from the hundreds of thousands that have found their way into the pages of this newspaper) it would be this.

Open your eyes.

Now hear me out, because it’s not all bad.

This city has it’s dark corners, like any municipality. There’s mismanagement at city hall, there’s crime, there’s ongoing issues with the downtown, and there’s a stigma about the south end that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.

However, from experience, I can tell you when you really look at these issues, you can see the bright spots.

For one, I called the south end home for the majority of my time in Oshawa, and I loved living there. The entire south end of Oshawa feels like one big community and since moving away, I find myself missing the streets I used to walk and the quick access to Lake Ontario.

The same goes for the other issues in Oshawa.

City hall has been a large part of my coverage while at The Express, and I won’t go into all the issues that have come across my desk.

However, with the right management, and the right council, they can really take this city to the next level, especially as the north end continues to surge, the university and college continue to grow and the employment lands begin to open up around the Highway 407 extension and northward.

It comes down to you though, reader.

It takes an engaged citizenry with open eyes to look at these issues and find solutions, or at least elect the individuals who will. It takes people getting involved in their communities, talking with their neighbours and spending quality time in their city for this place to truly thrive.

Because honestly, Oshawa, you’re an amazing place, just as long as you open your eyes and look.

So, with that, and my final goodbyes said at the office, I bid you all farewell. To everyone who I’ve come across in this city (and there’s been a lot of you), I thank you for taking the time to assist a journalist in doing his job and making this an absolutely amazing place to work.