What was produced last 22 years should be treasured

I come not to bury the Examiner, but praise it.

I had a long, sometimes volatile relationship with the paper, working as a regular freelancer for 18 of the 22 years it was in existence, but it will always hold a place in my heart.

It is where I was allowed to be a small-town Roger Ebert, pumping out a weekly movie column from 1994-2010.

Along the way, the paper’s various owners, publishers and editors, all people I had worked with back in my younger days at the Whidbey News-Times, gave me many, many opportunities to see my byline splashed across the Examiner’s pages.

Later, when the digital age encroached on all of our worlds, a lot of my writing ended up on the paper’s web site, especially when I returned to my sports reporting roots to cover Coupeville High School for several years.

The Examiner was a grand experiment, never more so than when the original crew left the big city paper up in Oak Harbor to launch their own paper.

When I stopped freelancing in 2012 and went off on my own with Coupeville Sports, it cost me only a few bucks to buy a domain name and then I was up and flying, posting stories at 3 a.m.

Back in the olden days, when the focus was on print, The Examiner staff was working out of a small office, going toe-to-toe with newspapers which owned their own printing presses.

The “original five” — Keven R. Graves, Mary Kay Doody, Gretchen Young, Bill Wilson and Laura Blankenship — were swinging for the fences, and there was never a doubt I would do what I could to help them.

That they allowed me to be a small part of what they created and nurtured, what became an award-winning paper that was, without question, the best on the Island in its heyday, is something for which I will always be grateful.

Time changes everything — if it didn’t, I’d still be getting paid to happily watch movies at Videoville — and I understand the financial decision behind the Examiner’s departure.

It’s still a bit of a punch to the soul, though.

But I like to think that any, and all, of The Examiner alumni, who are still out there working in the wide, diverse world of journalism — whether at a paper or operating a blog — are doing their bit to keep the torch lit.

Whether we were there on day one, or joined later, had ownership or worked on the outskirts, what we produced over those 22 years should be treasured. It was a heck of a run.