Monday, July 28, 2008

Pen and paper put away, as local journalist moves on to “future endeavours”

The Daily News finally caught up to the conversation theme that was working its way through Prince Rupert last week, with confirmation that lead reporter Leanne Ritchie was no longer working at the newspaper.

For the last week, more than a few residents had noticed that her byline on stories had disappeared from the pages of the Daily News since early July, with as many conspiracy theories making the rounds for her absence, as the Daily can provide pages for on a Friday edition.

Editor Earl Gale provided a tribute of sorts to Ms. Ritchie’s efforts on behalf of the newspaper, but shed little in the way of light as to what her future plans may be or the circumstances of her departure . Whether they may be moving on to a larger paper, free lancing, changing careers or maybe, writing the inside story of Prince Rupert that a few of our residents seem to believe she has tucked away in a notebook somewhere.

In the course of his editorial, Gale proclaimed that Friday was the final day of Ritchie’s tenure with the paper. Though it appears that she’s been away from the press room for more than a few days, with the last article of interest printed with her byline dating back to Tuesday, July 8th and a report on the slowdown of the Housing market in Northern BC. Since then, she’s been off the pages, with the remaining staff members taking on many of the stories that once were her domain.

While taking up her news beat here, for five years they say, from her vantage point of the numerous sectors of the news she covered over the years, she provided a fairly reliable sense of what was going on around the city. Though it did seem at times that the Daily News spell checking program and transposing machinery would let her down on the odd occasion, transporting her thoughts into an occasionally jumbled heap of letters, some of which made sense, and some of them that, er well, we eventually got the gist of it all. It’s a process that wasn’t limited to Ms. Ritchie alone however, as it has seemed to bedevil reporters, editors, and publishers through the years with many interesting interpretations of the events of the North coast.

It is a bit unusual that a departing journalist, especially one with five years service on the local scene is not allowed a farewell column. One of those thanks for being so kind Rupert kind of screeds, that leaves everyone feeling all warm and toasty inside. A few final thoughts on how living in Rupert changed and or helped yet another journalist to grow and develop his/her skills and how he/she will always take a bit of Rupert with them, yadda, yadda, yadda.

That absence (Oversight?; Conspiracy?; pick your favourite ) of a farewell column, more than anything else will no doubt keep the Prince Rumour mill working overtime, and provide more than enough fodder for the local hackingthemainframe chat boards, until enough time has passed that the former reporter becomes just another in a long list of scribes that have taken leave of the north coast.

The Editorial recapping her career and sneaking in a strangely placed introduction for her replacement (here’s your coat Leanne, sorry you can’t stay! Hey there’s George!) appeared on page four of Friday’s paper.

It invites Daily News readers to share story ideas with the new guy, one might very well be hey, "whatever happened to that Leanne Ritchie gal?"

Leanne Ritchie will be missed
Today marks the end of an era at the Daily News; the final day in Leanne Ritchie’s lengthy tenure with the paper
Earle Gale
The Daily News
Friday, July 25, 2008
Page four

Leanne has been one of the longest serving members of the Daily News editorial team in recent history, racking up an incredible five years on the front lines of news-gathering in our city.

Many of those years were spent working closely with James Vassallo (who moved on one year ago after four years at the paper), and Patrick Witwicki (who is still at the Daily News and who is himself closing in on five years on the job.

In and industry in which journalists frequently bounce around from paper to paper every year or so, and in a career in which reporters all-too-often burn out because of the long hours and ever-present deadlines, Leanne, James and Patrick became anomalies – reporters who stuck around.

During her five years at the paper, Leanne built up an encyclopedic knowledge of municipal politics an politicians, the pulp industry, First Nations communities from Victoria to Alaska and the international shipping industry.

She got to read and decipher the city’s budget each year, plough through endless council reports, environmental assessments and manifestos.

All time-consuming and detailed work that requires the depth of concentration and energy that can, all-too-often, leave reporters tired and jaded.

Leanne was great at boiling complex information down into salient points and writing about things succinctly for our readers.

And while the work of a reporter can be hard at times, it is often tons of fun as well and opens doors to many interesting places.

Leanne got to interview prime ministers, cabinet ministers, larger-than-life businessmen and celebrities along the way.

Even though today is the full-stop at the end of the Leanne Ritchie chapter of the Daily News story, Monday marks the start of the next page in that story- the arrival of Leanne’s replacement, George Baker, about whom readers will hear more next week.

George will be working with Patrick and Kris Schumacher, who has been a valuable member of our team now for more than a year.

The Daily News wishes Leanne well in her future endeavours and welcomes George to the paper. He will be taking over all of Leanne’s ‘beats’ and will begin by working his way down her ‘to do’ list. We encourage readers to share their story ideas with him.

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