BARRY’S BAY – There was a time when the caricature of a journalist was a man with a pad of paper and a pencil, who wore a tweed jacket and a flat-brimmed hat with a ‘press’ card stuck to the side of it.
For Doug Hempstead, the landscape of journalism and major media has shifted and changed dramatically alongside of his career.
The professional, multi-award winning journalist now resides in Ottawa and has worked within various avenues of media.
Growing up in Pembroke, Ontario, Hempstead moved to the region from Whitby at the age of three-years-old.
“I moved to Pembroke in 1976 and a year later, my dad, Howard Hempstead, got the job as the director of the Public School Board,” he said.
Although his father was directly related to local education, Hempstead had a tough time within the school system from a young age.
“I was terrible at just about everything and my marks were pretty average because I think what happens to a lot of kids is that they coast, and then all of a sudden, you get to Grade 7 and you can’t coast anymore. I had done too much coasting and had a lot of catching up to do,” he noted.
Being enrolled in French Immersion at Champlain High School, Hempstead finally found a course that peaked his interest.
“I happened upon a photography class and you needed a technical credit to graduate, so that qualified as one. And so I took the class and got the first 98 per cent that I’d ever got in my life,” he said.
Hempstead delved deep into the world of photography and saw it as a new passion in his life.
“I sort of re-applied myself and was able to reinvent myself. I could still be a goofball but I loved everything to do with photography,” he said.
After six years of high school, Hempstead still didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.
“I thought about taking photography at the University of Ottawa but I didn’t really like who would have been my fellow students. They were all a bunch of sensitive looking guys with trench coats and ponytails with fluffy, first-run goatees. They all seemed really pretentious to me and it didn’t seem to be my crowd,” he added.
During this time of decision, Hempstead’s father urged him to pursue journalism as opposed to photography, as he felt that there was more of a career attached that profession.
Hempstead finally decided that the journalism program at Loyalist College was the best fit for him.
After taking a few radio broadcasting courses, he knew that radio wasn’t his forte.
“I actually took some radio courses, but radio announcers in my ear sounded like they would get bored of their job pretty quickly. I knew then that I wanted to do something that was different every day. The program was perfect for that as it was 80 per cent photography, 10 per cent writing and 10 per cent newspaper design,” he said.
Upon completion of the college program, Hempstead was offered two jobs. One was a posting in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and the other was a posting at Barry’s Bay This Week.
In October of 1995, Hempstead moved to Barry’s Bay and began working for the local publication.
“I was initially hired to be a photographer and a darkroom technician. I used a PMT machine that was a photo enlarger and worked like a wet photocopier and took pictures of ads and re-sized them,” he noted.
Story continues in the August 1 issue of The Valley Gazette.