By the time we were finished with him, Bruce Moore could have been an icon!

This is a story (true) about the professional and friendly connections experienced by Barrie’s media a few years ago.

It was 1972 and this region was served by a privately owned television station, a privately owned community newspaper, a Thomson daily paper, a privately owned AM radio station. That was it. It meant that those of us on the ‘news’ beats saw alot of each other because there weren’t many of us and there was alot of news.

Our media were essentially in competition with each other. Certainly our respective sales people were out dumping on the competition in an effort to sell space or time to provide the financial fuel that let us creative types publish the news or air local programming. It was healthy competition among professional rivals.

When I arrived on the scene in 1972 at age 24 to become editor of the community owned weekly newspaper, I brought an attitude with me. I figured that as the sole writer, the photographer, the proofreader, editor, page designer, assignment editor, and headline writer I’d have no days off a year (I was right) and I’d have to be on top of my game to publish news that had a different kind of slant to what the hourly radio, daily newspaper, and selective tv people were going to share with the residents of Barrie.

There were 24,000 people in Barrie back then. We were busy. And on the odd occasion, those of us in ‘news’ needed each other.

I regularly read the Saturday night news on CKBB Radio because it was the only break the news editor got from his long days. I wrote it, too. When the assignment list was so long that it was impossible to cover everything with limited people resources, we often shared, verified, and supported each other. Many times I packed a tape recorder for Dick Hildebrand (CKBB) while he was off covering something else with my camera so I’d have visual coverage of an event I couldn’t make.

Today we’d call it co-opetition.

Anyway... many news stories require an opinion element. You know, the remarks of a bystander about the Santa Claus parade. The remarks of a voter after the municipal election. The remarks of an old timer on the deep temperatures of winter. The remarks of a young person after a concert.

When you’re trying to write the news, and dash off to your next event, interviewing a bystander is often the last thing on your mind.

Now, the event in question occurred during a press club meeting (loose structure around the word club) at the American Hotel after a City Council meeting in 1973. In those days, City Hall really was under the arch, and the “Yank” hadn’t given way to the current City Hall courtyard. We’d had a long meeting--nearly five hours--and all of us had gone over to re-hash the meeting. During the council meeting, a steeplejack had toppled off the Collier Street United Church steeple, dangling by his safety belt in mid-air. Council was poised to hold a recorded vote on a road extension that had drawn so much controversy that someone from the Globe & Mail was covering it. We all needed to be in two places at once. We did what we normally did and one reporter headed out to Collier Church with everyone’s camera equipment to shoot a variety of pictures from a variety of angles.

Well... the Press Club meeting after Council berated the steeple reporter for not getting any ‘bystander comments’ for the story and one thing lead to another and we decided we were all tired of trying to find bystanders after the fact.

And so Bruce Moore came into being.

Bruce was young. Bruce was old. He wore a toque. He had grey-blue-green eyes. He was opinionated. He waffled. He enjoyed culture. He loved sports. He even went to minor hockey games on Saturday mornings. After he went to the Farmers’ Market. He went to parades. He positively loved Barrie.

Now it took total commitment, you realize, on the part of all media reps present, if Bruce Moore was going to really take the pressure off us.

Bruce became regularly quoted on just about everything. CKBB would report that Bruce felt this year’s Armistice parade was the best-ever attended. The Examiner would report that Bruce felt the ice was thicker on the bay than he had ever seen. And Bruce revelled in the crowds at Winter Carnival and waxed poetic about the quality of broomball that particular year.

Bruce was everywhere. Bruce never commented on factual information and never made statements that would sway public opinion, but Bruce likely could have run for political office in Barrie and received a healthy number of votes.

And as I look back fondly on what were my days in healthy media competition for news stories that mattered at a local level, and I remember my colleagues who worked so hard in those days to deliver news stories and pictures that reflected the world in which we worked. I smile when I think of Bruce Moore. What a relief he was!

Thanks, Bruce.

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