Editor’s viewpoint May 2020

    tjolotjo zimbabwe
    Historic image of Tjolotjo, Rhodesia's district commissioner residence

    By Mark Buckshon

    As we make our way through the pandemic, with some of the extra free time from reduced commuting and outside activities, I sometimes reflect on the past, both one year and 40 years ago.

    A year ago, on May 1, we launched Ontario Construction News as the province’s newest daily construction trade newspaper. Our goal: To create a digital newspaper with the look, feel and characteristics of a conventional tabloid newspaper, providing current news while complying with Ontario Construction Act and Legislation Act (2006) requirements for construction industry legal notice publications.

    It was a somewhat scary experience – but I found the risk/anxiety quite manageable especially in light of my experiences four decades previously, when I was in the midst of living through the final year of the Rhodesia/Zimbabwe civil war as a journalist.

    This time in 1980, I was on my way home from Africa; with a few last-minute adventures including a week in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and another week in Liberia, a couple of weeks after a military coup that set the stage for a bloody civil war there. Crazy places for anyone to be – but I would celebrate my birthday (May 19) alone in Monrovia, looking over the Atlantic ocean and thinking how, if I could survive these experiences, I could survive anything.

    The African experience taught me about fear, perception, and intelligent risk-taking. In the ideal circumstances, it is possible to apply knowledge and experience to make seemingly risky endeavours quite safe – but since they look daring, you get credit for being courageous.

    These concepts applied when we launched Ontario Construction News last spring; designing the business to operate debt-free and to be sustainable even during the slow start-up months.  We succeeded.

    They also apply in the current circumstances. While I think we will have some very rough and challenging times ahead – all of the government stimulus money and emergency benefits cannot take away the really radical shift in the world’s economy with forced social distancing – I know we can manage this period by appreciating the basics of good business management and risk planning.

    One way to view the current situation is as an adventure.  We are heading into somewhat unknown territory, but getting through the experience will make us stronger and more resilient.

    So I look forward to this time next year, and many years into the future.

    Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies.  He can be reached by email at buckshon@cnrgp.com.


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