Tuesday, December 13, 2005

We see that.............

Longtime Podunkians or those that lived here in the nineties will recognize those three words as the key catch phrase of the newspaper Prince Rupert This Week. Back in the early nineties, those three little words would catch the attention of many a Podunkian, some were the subjects, others observers, but everyone was a reader of that column.

We mention that, because we saw yesterday in the Daily Podunkian that former This Week editor Gerry Deiter passed away in Victoria over the weekend. The journalist/photographer who was still involved in the media at the age of 70, suffered a heart attack on a sidewalk of the capital city and could not be revived.

Deiter, arrived for good in Canada from the US in the seventies, he probably is best known nationally and internationally for his pictures of the John and Yoko bed in for peace in 1969. As it happens at the time of his passing, those same pictures are part of a display of Lennon photo’s currently showing at the Royal Museum of BC. (His photos of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono bed in can be found at this link).They take the form of pubic testimony to his place in the lore of pop culture.

But in Prince Rupert, he’ll probably be best remembered for his newspaper skills and in providing one of the few successful attempts at taking on the Daily News. This Week launched like nothing seen here before, it was a lively upbeat weekly, which realizing the limitations of a weekly press run, featured a heavy dose of commentary, in depth feature articles and an arts and entertainment section that reflected a vibrant arts scene in the community. The arrival of This Week shook up the media scene in the nineties with its flashy graphics and well written articles, it was part Bohemian escape and part Front Page, the employees believing they were changing the media landscape here.

But it was, The We see feature that was of particular interest to the people of Podunk, it was like being a barfly at your favourite watering hole catching up on the local trade of gossip. It did however cause controversy from time to time; many an angry phone call was directed to the This Week offices in complaint of an appearance in the feature. But as they say, if they're talking about you, they're probably reading you!

As time would move along, the feature became much tamer and less salacious, which coincided in the papers evolution into really just another paper, not breaking news anymore, at times seeming to go through the motions. It still however caused enough concern at the Daily, that they used that long time business strategy of if you can’t beat them, buy them. Deiter himself recounted those halcyon days of journalism for the Straight Goods website in November of this year. And while his hyperbole of suggesting they were the paper of record after three weeks probably isn't quite correct, they did in the long run give the Daily a good run for its money.

From the day of the purchase though, the journalistic spirit of that publication was gone. It eventually morphed into the Extra of today, which makes for a lovely wrapper of flyers and not much more. Deiter had long since sailed off on his boat for Victoria and his table at the Swans pub, where he held court for many years. He no doubt spent a few hours recounting his days on the North Coast and his contribution to the journalistic scene here.

Since that day competitors for the Daily News have come and gone over the years, but none have been able to capture the life that Deiter brought to the newspaper scene here for that brief period of time. We see that the Dieter story in the Daily was placed on the last page of the paper; we suspect that Mr. Deiter would get a chuckle out of the placement! On Monday, it would be the last thing someone would read before they put their paper away, he’d probably enjoy being the final article of the day’s press run.

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