Jim Coulter is retiring as publisher of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
His last day is today, his 65th birthday.
Coulter spent nearly 16 years at the paper and close to 29 in the industry, total. Of those, nearly 24 were with Black Press, owner of the News and the largest independently owned newspaper company in Canada, with more than 150 titles in print and online.
Coulter started with Black Press in January 1988, and in August of that year helped launch Kamloops This Week.
He arrived in Maple Ridge in November 2000.
Since, he has served the community in various volunteer and charitable capacities.
He was on the capital campaign committee to help raise money for the Arts Centre and Theatre.
He also spent six years on the chamber of commerce board, retiring from that in 2006 as president.
Coulter joined Meadowridge Rotary in 2007 and attended his last meeting, as sergeant at arms, this past week.
Coulter spent nine years on the board of directors for the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, as well, helping with fundraising events, such as the annual Fund Run, gala and spin-a-thon.
He was also part of the Spirit of B.C. community committee prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
“I’ve never not been on some committee,” Coulter said.
Other committees he served on involved the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, Mainstage festival and arts council.
As well, he coached soccer with Golden Ears United and West Coast Auto Group Football Club.
Coulter, who is relocating to the Okanagan, is going to miss Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and the people he’s gotten to know here.
“The thing that strikes me about this community is all the people who genuinely care to make this a better place to live.”
During his time in newpapers, they have seen much change: from cut and paste to the digital age.
Papers constantly have to adapt to survive, Coulter said.
“But we shouldn’t be threatened by the new technology. We just have to figure out how we fit into it.”
Despite such changes, he said there remains a constant in local news: “The thing we’ve got going for us is the model we’ve always had – the fact we are the community press and there’s no one else that has three or four people in the editorial department, devoted to telling local stories to local people.”
The same is true for advertising, he added.
“We visit the local businesses, we take their messages and give them to local people.
“Hyper-local,” Coulter said, “that’s our strength, and I think it’s going to sustain us in the future.”
He’s proud of the work of local papers.
“We represent the communities that we serve because we live in the communities that we serve. We are invested in them … and we can’t lose that.”
Winning the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Community Spirit last week, he said, is a reflection of how the paper is perceived.
“A successful paper is one that people of the community take ownership of and we are just stewards of it.”
If you can achieve that status, the people will pay attention, he said.
“People still care. They still care about this newspaper. They want to get it on their doorstep, and they hold us accountable, to get it right … They trust us to look after their newspaper.”