A new year’s toast to strength, conviction, endurance


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If only the sand running out of the 2021 hourglass also signalled the end of the pandemic.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2021 (226 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If only the sand running out of the 2021 hourglass also signalled the end of the pandemic.

I don’t want to be naive in my annual New Year’s Eve message to Winnipeg Free Press readers, but I desperately wish the clock striking midnight Dec. 31 would be the demarcation between the annus horribilis COVID-19 dealt us and the viral-free 2022 we all want and need.

Unfortunately, I worry the image of an hourglass representing the waning days of the year misses the mark, given what the Omicron variant is doing to us all. What seems more apt is a snow globe in which we are trapped as COVID shakes up our world in ways that seemed unimaginable when 2021 began.

This was to be the year we moved past COVID due to the vaccine. This was to be the year health-care workers finally got a break. This was to be the year lockdowns became part of the past as a return to normal became the present.

The near-future now appears more foreboding, more distressing, more depressing, despite all the gains made in the past 21 months.

While I’ve never been in a place like this on the eve of a new year, the long view of the Free Press means its newsroom has been here before, time and time again, since it began publishing in 1872.

When I say our newsroom has been there before, I mean more than the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago. In times of war and in the darkest days of the Great Depression, the Free Press has found a way to move its journalistic mission forward, to inform, to hold to account, to illuminate a way forward.

In the year ahead, in which the Free Press will mark its 150th anniversary, we will add to that legacy — because that’s what our readers deserve.

As much as reporters can be a cynical lot, we believe in the power of journalism to make a difference. We’ve seen it in our reporting on the pandemic these past 12 months — in stories that revealed the hypocrisy of some of those leading the province’s response, as well as stories that highlight the humanity central to this story of our lifetime.

What our city and province need now more than ever is more information, more context, more understanding. That’s what the Free Press will deliver, as we combat the disinformation, the discord and the dysfunction spreading almost as fast as the novel coronavirus.

By nature, I am a glass half-full person. That may not be an easy view to hold these days — especially as texts roll in with news of positive tests from friends and colleagues — but it is one I am not prepared to surrender.

When I toast the new year, I will be thankful for readers like you who make what we do possible despite these unprecedented times.

When I toast the new year, I will give thanks to our team of reporters, photojournalists and editors who have risen to the challenges of COVID with courage, conviction and creativity in a way that keeps faith with a journalistic tradition now a century-and-a-half strong.

My final toast will be a double, as I wish you not only a happy new year, but also one that will be healthier for all those in your life.

Paul Samyn is editor of the Winnipeg Free Press


Twitter: @paulsamyn

Paul Samyn

Paul Samyn

Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for more than a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988.

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