Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Farewells and Remembrances of the Daily News (Chapter Two)

As the Daily News outlines the process of closing down a paper and reveals its final printing date, the last few columns and observations continue to appear.

Wednesday, featured Editor Wendy Webb's interpretation of the causes of the papers demise, offering up her thoughts on the local discussion surrounding the paper and what we may miss from the end of the paper's 99 year run.

Monica Lamb Yorski provides her final column for the paper and Charlotte Rowse takes to the letter to the editor page, offering up a short testimonial to the daily, before taking the city government to task over a number of local issues.

Memoriam to Prince Rupert’s Daily 
Wendy Webb 
Just Call Me Charlotte 
Prince Rupert Daily News 
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 
Page four 

 It’s like a death.

There is no other way to describe it. Maybe not someone as close as your spouse or your child — but certainly a cousin or an uncle or a long-time acquaintance.

And there is a slow burning anger in your belly, the kind you feel when you know that it could have been averted that the accident didn’t have to happen.

lt is true that many newspapers started out as propaganda engines for politicians, and that the papers’ survival depended on being first to get the story on the street. But town newspapers have developed into so much more than that over time.

We have become a means for people to learn what their fellow community members are doing each day and we are the recorders of everyday history.

Examine any past civilizations and youʼll discover that it is the daily beings and doings of a society that shape it and that future generations exclaim upon - the same low-key community activities that the Daily News has recorded in this city each day for one hundred years.

No one will care, another hundred years from now, whether or not the ‘other paper’ had a story out one day before us — but they will appreciate that the fullest and fairest details were provided by our newspaper and that we made sure to present more than one point of view.

And they will find more than just the ʻhardʼ news of our time.

They will love the discovery of their great granddad’s picture in an old "what's happening at school" feature and seeing what Seafest was like way back when, or the contributions of artists from Dodge Cove and local First Nations dancers.

They’ll be intrigued by the language and the dress and the style of advertising in this town in 2010 - just as we are today when we look back to the news papers of 1911.

I’m tired of local critics who imply that our determination to take the time to do it right - to provide the best and most in-depth story - rather than the fastest and sometimes inaccurate scoop is poor policy.

I take offense to the statement that we “used to be” the paper of record for Prince Rupert and the suggestion that only ‘hard’ news is worthy of recording.

The implication, that the endless and mostly volunteer endeavours of this giving community are somehow less important than the latest political scandal, is appalling.

It is the everyday humanity within each of us that constitutes the lifeblood of this town - and which counts for most in the end - not just the politics of the day.

Many like to compare print editions unfavourably with news websites. But I defy you to cut little ]ohnnyʼs hockey picture out of a computer screen and paste it alongside others in a family scrapbook, or save important news clippings in a box to sift through at leisure.

Just ask Glenn Boychuk where his wonderful stories have come from, or Phyllis Bowman about her books. We need to be able to touch things — to feel pages turn in our hands.

The Daily News has bound archives that go back a century I challenge you to show me a digital technology that can compare — or a website or computer  file that you can say with any assurance will still be accessible a hundred years from now.

Remember the LP, the eight—track, the cassette the Beta and VHS?

Newscasts, blogsites and Twitter texts flash through our brains in seconds, to be replaced by the next frantic item of interest, and short sighted viewers fail to recognize the transient and generic nature of digital information.

Weʼre so caught up in having 'instant’ everything that we’re leaving behind the ability to remember. 

To local blogsites and any others who, even amidst our death-rattles cannot seem to help themselves as they continue to cast anonymous aspersions upon our virtues I say, “Shame on your, sir!”

Your lame afterthought that the constant negatives were ‘only ever intended to guide us for our own good’ only adds to your disgrace.

The Daily News has died because the community did not recognize the need to support it.

It is gone because no one thought, after almost a hundred years, there was any reason to think their town newspaper might not be there one day.

It was taken for granted.

People with shrinking budgets didnʼt think their daily subscription would matter if it wasnʼt there — until the choice of having it is gone, and the ‘free’ editions leave along with it.

If you want services to exist in Prince Rupert — if you want to be able to pick up more nails when youʼre building your deck and run out, or get a carton of milk after the big stores have closed for the day or a new pair of sneakers for Johnny’s track meet that night.

If you don’t want driving an hour and a half to Terrace to become a necessity rather than an option.

Then you have to purchase from your local retailers and contractors even the ‘other paper' (lol).

Don’t take them for granted. Don’t think theyʼll always just be there for your convenience without contributing your part.

I weep for the fact that Prince Rupert’s Daily News would have had its hundredth birthday in a matter of months.

I ache for its demise in the centennial year of this city.

I cannot even begin to tell you how devastated I feel to lose the most honarable and dedicated staff members I have encountered in twenty plus years of supervisory engagements — Patrick Witwicki, Monica Lamb-Yorski, George T. Baker, Nicole Silab, Ellen Marsh and all the other staff that have worked so cooperatively with Editorial each day. Baker, Nicole Slab, Ellen Marsh and all the other staff that have worked so cooperatively with Editorial each day.

As the ghosts of past Rupertites gather around my desk tonight, our sincerest thanks go out to all those who have supported The Daily News over so very many years.

To the multitude of well wishers that have phoned or emailed over the past week - bless you all for your comfort.

To all the reporters, editors, sales reps (yes Ed, we know you’ve been here eighteen years), ad builders, typeset tress, pressmen, admin clerks, circulation managers, paper-carriers, interviewees, column writers, photo submitters, customers, advertisers, subscribers, and readers that make up the pageant of a centuries worth of news and freedom of thought - you can stand very proudly as the Daily News sails on at last. 

Aboard the Titanic 
Moncia Lamb-Yorski 
The Daily News 
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 
Page four 

Dear readers, critics and supporters. I write to you for the last time from between the lines, my weekly column where I present my humble view and musings of the world we call Prince Rupert.

The challenge of being a reporter for a 99-year-old paper that’s being suddenly shut down isnʼt a gig I'd wish on anyone. In these sinking days of the Ship Prince Rupert Daily News, itʼs been a tough go.

I’ve said out loud a few times it feels like we are going down on the Titanic. Can you imagine trying to write new stories from our stance? It’s not like you can go busy yourself and clean out a back closet and hide out while things wind down. No, we’ve got a daily paper to put out and, on top of that, have had to write about our own demise.

Iʼve been calling people to see if they have one last big story before we turn out the lights. CN. Canpotex. Ridley Terminals. Anybody home?

Iʼve received phone calls and visits from readers that are saddened. I’ve come across slams from critics on the Internet who had nothing good to say in the first place and last night I was at a meeting where someone talked about going to our competition paper to get an interview. That sure felt deflating.

If Iʼm going to use the Titanic as a metaphor, I might as well add the fact that perhaps the visit of Michael Hall, the great great grandson of Charles Hays, to our fair city two weeks ago, was a foreshadow of the paper's death. After all, it was aboard that fateful vessel that Hays met his demise. 

And if that was foreshadow number one and I was being oblivious to the signs, I have to wonder about my Canada Day column that explored the idea of open dialogue between businesses and customers as a way to help move forward in our trying economy.

I encouraged businesses to share their bottom line to let the community know what was needed to stay open. Crazy because we didn’t know we were facing the same situation ourselves. Less than a month before we’d had meetings with some of our managers where we talked about finally getting the website we’d been promised for over two years.

We shared ideas about helping the paper move forward and ways to meet an even wider range of readers - young and old. I’d even downloaded two movies on our website - one of a bucking bronco rider at the Kispiox rodeo and another from the Enbridge presensation to City Council.

So on July 2, when we suddenly hit that iceberg, informing us we were sold and then floated in uncertain icy waters before we were dealt the final blow it was surreal.

Perhaps those managers weren't even in the know. I'm certainly no expert on big business deals, but I know talks had been in the works for almost a year to sell certain papers.

The devil would like me to take the weight of this sinking on personally and he’s had his hey day the last week, trying to convince me I've been the main part of the problem, but I know that's not true.

Nobody’s perfect but I can attest that we’ve all worked hard and like many of those in the community that have lost their jobs now it’s not an easy pill to swallow.

From the people that have delivered the paper for 20 years that are wonder ing what they’ll do to earn money, to the pressmen that will now live in a press-less town, it ain’t going to be easy.

Yet I think the fact that we were about to turn one hundred years old is probably the saddest part of the whole story As one of those pressmen, Darren Muir, said yesterday, the paper lived through the Great Depression, world wars, a decline in the population and more. Why not this?

With the click of a pen, it met its demise. I guess the old saying, "the pen is mightier than the sword" is true.

Please know that none of us are taking this lightly We never saw it coming. Whether you loved us or hated us, it was a dynamic relationship, and that's something we'll all miss.

As we move towards our final publication date this Friday I’m grabbing my life jacket. Yah, it’ s the one I mentioned way back in my first column ever about sinking or floating in this career.

I’ll wave bravely from the ship as it sinks beneath the waves and then, once I know itʼs sunk to the bottom safely, will swim to the shore, gather my wits about me, and figure out where to place my writing energies next.

Having Civic Pride 
Letter to the Editor 
Prince Rupert Daily News 
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 

First off we hate to see the Daily News terminating their operations. especially since it means job losses we look forward to the evening paper every night and wish there was something we could do to reverse this decision!

Secondly — Donna our City Gardener has done an excellent job considering her budget was cut! And speaking of flowers, the City Pride Planters are looking great- thanks to all of the volunteers!

Now — to discuss the city affairs there is a complete lack of information regarding the pulp mill! It is quite outrages this mess has gone on — our costs pile up monthly. The city should have a forum to inform us all aspects concerning the sale of the mill.

Also what is happening to the application of the "Nuisance Bylaw" — we still have those despicable and unsought lie buildings on third ave!

Lastly one word about tourism - the tourist ship making her one stop - the "Silver Shadow” - no rmarketing director to meet and greet the ship also never seen at any of our big gatherings this year - The All Native Tournament, the Jazz dancers, the Rotary Convention and the Homecoming to meet and greet all of the people - that’s what you call marketing out town -- sadly lacking!

Charlotte Rowse 
Civic Pride


Anonymous said...

I'm always amused when young reporters feel that they have invented the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Right on...aah boo hoo..pissin and moaning on the way out..