To Western Producer readers, he was Keith Dryden, reporter, Agricultural Editor, Managing Editor, Executive Editor and finally Editor and Deputy Publisher of WP.
But to many who knew him personally, he was a boy from Tufnell, Sask., who became a journalist and served his readers.
Dryden died Oct. 11 at age 90 but his work lives on here at the WP.
Dryden retired in 1992 after 38 years here, but until 2000 maintained his witty and often sardonic weekly column The Fringe.
His years in journalism began in 1947 as a WP reporter, before he moved for a couple of years each to Regina’s Leader Post and Calgary’s Albertan, returning to the WP in 1960.
Dryden, along with departed Publisher Bob Phillips, moved the WP from a local and regional publication to one known for its national and international agricultural news and perspectives.
In the 1980s and 90s, the industry shifted from hot type to digital, and later to the internet publishing revolution.
Dryden and Phillips possessed the foresight to push for infrastructure investments ahead of the news industry’s curve, enabling the WP to stay on top of the rapid changes in agriculture and information delivery.
Dryden played a key role in creating news bureaus at various locations across Canada, brought in more reporters and editors and embraced technology, which helped the publication set itself apart from its competition and built a culture that emphasized continual improvement, a legacy that carries on to this day.
Since Dryden’s retirement, many newspapers and magazines have failed to adapt, largely due to a lack of this type of legacy not, as would-be analysts suggest, because of them.
His investments in agricultural information creation and delivery have helped make western Canadian farmers among the most efficient on the planet. It has added value to every acre and every animal, and food to plates around the globe.
Behind him lay a path tiled by pages of vigorous debate and farm-news analysis set by the first editor Pat Waldron.
Following him Tom Melville-Ness enhanced the reader’s view by adding rural life features, photography and graphic layouts. Phillips built a strong editorial engine to power the publication forward, and Dryden focused on the direction, mapping for future needs of modern farmers.
For this we are grateful.