Murray Elliott

Presented by Duff Jamison of Great West Newspapers

It’s my pleasure tonight to honour a friend and colleague for his 25 years of service to journalism and the community newspaper industry. Spend any time with him in conversation, and you quickly realize how much he cares about this business, the communities he serves and the people he interacts with daily.

Murray Elliott lives the credo of community newspapering, what we like to refer to in Great West Newspapers as the four pillars: Sales, Readership, Distribution and Community Engagement. In fact, he drank that Kool-Aid long before he ever hooked up with us.

Murray began his career 25 years ago as a reporter for the Airdrie Echo. His publisher was Jack Tenant, an ink in his veins newspaperman if there ever was one. Jack had a predilection for startups and convinced Murray he should do the same – not in some new, up and coming market, but in Olds where the incumbent Gazette had been published for a hundred years and was into its second generation of owners. And he should get started right away. It was 1993.

Have I mentioned that Murray can be a bit stubborn? Well, “a bit”, might be selling him short. He’s a whole lot stubborn and it served him well in his new venture. A more … what’s the word?  Experienced? Knowledgeable? Intelligent? … person might have chosen an easier hill to climb. Well, if anything, Murray’s no quitter. He turned that stubbornness into the more virtuous Perseverance and the Olds Albertan rose from nothing and flourished through his efforts. He partnered with Jack in the Innisfail Province in 1998 and then merged that operation with the Innisfail Booster in 2001.

By 2005 it was time to spread his wings a little further and he joined up with Great West to form Mountain View Publishing, a group of papers including the Didsbury Review, Innisfail Province and Sundre Roundup. The newly acquired Olds Gazette became the Mountain View Gazette, a regional section carried by the group. The Carstairs Courier was added to the group a few years later.

Murray is one of those people who has his hands in everything at the newspaper. He’s still writing stories and taking photos when called upon, selling ads, pinch-hitting in distribution, pouring over monthly financials and budgets – whatever needs to be done, when it has to be done.

He just can’t seem to say no and his community knows it. Whether it’s Kinsmen or Kiwanis, Special Olympics, the Chamber, Uptown Olds, charity fundraisers, the annual Spring Fling or the upcoming celebrations for Canada’s 150th, people in Olds know that they can count on Murray to pitch in. I have no idea how he finds the time to hone his golf game to a thing of wonder. He probably wonders about his golf game too.

These things are just his Mountain View responsibilities. He’s also spent years serving the industry on the AWNA board, serving as President for two years and Past President – well, forever. He’s chaired numerous committees, sat on both the CCNA and Adwest boards and has been recognized by his peers with the Bill Draayer Award. As of today, he’s officially retired from active duty at AWNA, but don’t be surprised if you spot him helping out on committees or wherever he’s needed.

And that brings me back to Great West. Murray is our Senior Group Publisher for Central and Southern Alberta. You’re probably wondering how he could possibly fit that in with everything else going on in his life. Well, thank God Murray hasn’t yet found that match made in heaven. I mean, who wouldn’t want a guy that works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, then when he does have a little spare time, jumps on his road bike and pedals 50 K?

Mr. Elliott, please join me at the podium to accept the News Media Canada Silver Quill for your 25 years of unreserved dedication to community newspapers.

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