With this issue of Canadian Mennonite, Ross W. Muir completes his time with the magazine. As managing editor for almost 18 years, he has undertaken a central piece of the work required to put the magazine together every two weeks.
Muir has worked diligently and consistently behind the scenes, attending to the finer points of writing style, as well as the larger points of making sure something appears on each page of the magazine, and many other responsibilities in between. He has always been attentive to the smallest details and interested in the biggest ideas. In this he has been of great service to the magazine and to Mennonite Church Canada.
Muir won five first-place awards for photography, design and writing from the Canadian Christian Communicators Association, along with numerous other awards individually and as part of collaborations. In our records, he is listed as writer or photographer for 165 pieces, including 18 covers that feature his photography or design work.
Former editor Virginia Hostetler, who worked with Muir from 2013 until last fall, said the following about her former colleague: “As a work colleague, I witnessed how Ross’s professional skills and his commitment have contributed greatly to the work of the CM team. He brought a sense of continuity and integrity to the magazine in its mission of informing and inspiring readers across the country.”
Tobi Thiessen, who has served as publisher since 2017, also pays tribute to Muir: “Ross has been conscientious and faithful in his work as managing editor. Hired in 2005, Ross came from another church tradition. He immediately started attending a local Mennonite church so he could be more informed about the denomination and get to know some of its people. Ross is also a talented photographer and regularly offered his photos to CM if they helped illustrate a story.
“One of Ross’s strengths is to safeguard the principles of free speech. As managing editor, he wanted the Readers Write section to be a lively and open space that reflects the broad range of views held by Mennonites across Canada. He was very reluctant to deny anyone the right to express an opinion through a letter.”
For Muir’s final issue of the magazine, we asked him to reflect on his time with Canadian Mennonite and the rest of his career in journalism. In that piece—which covers territory ranging from Manitoulin Island to Uganda, and the Hell’s Angels to the Winnipeg Jets—he speaks of the necessity of honesty, even when it might rankle.
Journalism is like that. It involves tension: reporting multiple sides, occasionally saying things that are unpopular, asking questions, trusting the value of free speech, hoping that readers will understand the value of these difficult disciplines.
Journalism is not like etching the 10 commandments in stone. The goal is not to pin down truth once and for all, but to trust a collective process of seeking truth and wisdom and love. There is no final word in journalism. The conversation can always continue in the form of letters or subsequent articles.
A managing editor of a magazine is a sort of keeper of this process, facilitating the orderly and clear presentation of a range of views, which cannot always be entirely orderly and clear. Decorum and propriety are not the ultimate goal in journalism, nor are they the ultimate goal in faith. Thus, the sensibilities of church journalists and magazine staff, as Muir’s feature illustrates, are distinct from those of a pastor or church leader. They are not altogether different, but not altogether the same.
We seek to embody the journalistic sensibilities Muir illustrates in his article. And, on behalf of CM readers past and present, we offer him gratitude and best wishes.
We also say farewell and thank you to interns Emma Siemens and Jesse White, both students at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). Siemens wrote numerous articles and conducted editorial research. White conducted market research into how faith-based magazines generate advertising revenue today and made recommendations for CM. She also created a survey for CMU students. We thank them both for their energy and insight, and we wish them well in their next steps.
Will Braun welcomes feedback at email@example.com.