Brian Bachynski

Presented by Duff Jamison, President of Great West Newspapers.

For those unfamiliar with the CCNA Silver Quill, it is a tribute to owners, executive officers, editors or publishers who have been engaged in community newspapering for a period of at least 25 years. This recipient has been all of these things, although his ownership of a sleazy hotel and bar might be questioned for it not that newspaper types spend a good deal of their time in such establishments.

It’s my honour and pleasure this evening to present a Silver Quill to my alter-ego at Great West Newspapers. I say that because while I tend to mull things over for what must seem like forever to most people, Brian Bachynski is one of those people who cuts to the chase and gets things done. It’s an admirable trait if you want to put out profitable newspapers week in and week out. Thank God he’s there in the next office or the business would be going over the cliff while I pondered the great transformational change washing over the industry.

Brian got his start in this business in 1990 as a copy runner at the Calgary Sun. He says his time there had a major influence on his career as he learned how to identify the critical news in the story, how to balance several stories at the same time and how to push them over the goal line by deadline. You can see that talent today when he jumps into the breach in the St. Albert Gazette newsroom. In my view, and I know Brian shares it, the newspaper really benefits when senior leadership is fully engaged with this most basic and critical element of our business. What are we without the news?

He wasn’t at the Sun long before he was lured away by Al Blackmere to take the sports beat at the Barrhead Leader. Within three months he was the Leader’s editor.

His interest in politics then led him to Ottawa where he spent a couple of years as the local MP’s legislative assistant before returning to Alberta in early 1996 as publisher of the Athabasca Advocate.

On Al’s retirement in 2003, Brian took on responsibility for the newspaper group consisting of Athabasca, Barrhead, Westlock and Lac La Biche and a part of Great West Newspapers since 1999.

He spent five years running that operation and probably too much time at the golf course. It’s hard to find fault in that because the Athabasca course is one of Alberta’s hidden gems. But … he obviously needed more to do.


I invited him to travel with Paul Rockley and me to see a publisher interested in selling his business. Those two days convinced me Great West could use his talents in head office in St. Albert. By then, even the always skeptical Murray Elliott had taken to calling him the Golden Boy and Favourite Child for his ability to churn better profits than the other group publishers. In spite of their differences, the two of them must have found a way to bond – a trip to St. Louis perhaps? – because today they spend more time laughing at each other’s wit than getting much tangible work done.

In any case, Brian accepted my challenge and moved to St. Albert in 2008. Two years later he took my job as Gazette publisher on top of his other duties as Great West’s Senior Group Publisher. He’s now fully involved with the community: in Rotary, the Hospital Foundation, Economic Development Board … And he takes over as Chairman of the 1,000 member Chamber of Commerce in January. In fact he’s got so many things on the go outside of the newspapers I may have to push back my plans for semi-retirement. Of course, he would argue that really isn’t necessary. He would point out that I find a way to chew up two hours of his time every day and he actually gets more done when I’m not in the office.

Today, following the retirement of long-time VP Paul Rockley, Brian is Vice President, Publishing at Great West. He’s a thoroughly committed, ink in his veins, newspaper guy. He understands the value of community engagement and building a better community through the newspaper. He truly gets it. And I take great pride in presenting him with the Silver Quill commemorating his 25 years of service to our industry.  

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