Sunday, August 24, 2008


The seats of the Prince Rupert media scene had a bit of reorganization in July and August as members of the Daily News and CBC moved on to other ventures and a new arrival took up duties at the Daily News to replace the former lead reporter for the paper Leanne Ritchie.

The Daily News became the official message board for departing media types as Carla Wintersgill passed on her farewells from her time as the Daily's intern, not to be left out of the thanks for the memories club, was the CBC's Russell Bowers, who penned his own farewell to Rupert letter to the editor for the Daily News.

To keep the information flow moving along, the newest member of the Daily's staff, George T. Baker was provided with a nice little introductory biography from the departing Wintersgill.

All in all it was a nice effective bit of tidying up all those emotional loose ends when folks move on, all of course except for Leanne Ritchie, the long serving former lead reporter for the Daily News who apparently left the paper sometime in July.

As we reported earlier on this blog, Ms. Ritchie's byline seemed to disappear in early July, with the official announcement of her departure made later in the month with an editorial page update from the Daily News editor Earle Gale.

While the young intern and the incoming reporter had a chance to share their thoughts both outgoing and incoming and one of the city's radio announcers gained space to say his farewells, Ms. Ritchie just seemed to disappear, as though sent to the witness protection plan never to be heard from again.

It's a curious thing her sudden departure, leaving many wondering just what, if anything, might have been happening behind the scenes at Prince Rupert's daily paper. With some five years of service to the paper and much respected participation in the community,the absence of a farewell column is glaring considering the volume of farewells and hellos that landed in the paper this month.

It would have been nice to have at least been able to read her observations of life on the North coast, one final chance to gain a measure of her insight into our issues and personalities as she prepared to depart the place .

The stream of farewells in print over the last few weeks, provides for an interesting mirror on the local media scene and certainly shouts out a certain lack of closure on her departure.

Below we feature the string of farewells, hellos and updates as provided by the Daily News over the last month or so.

Broadcaster bids farewell to city
The Daily News
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Page 4

To the editor,

I just wanted to pass along a quick line to say “so long” to any and all who’d be interested.

As some of you might know, I’m finishing up five years with CBC in Prince Rupert on Friday, Aug. 15 and I just wanted to thank everyone who made living here so interesting.

Some of you I know personally and others professionally, but in all instances, I was always made to feel at home here, which I suppose is the reason my tenure here was longer than other CBC-ers who have passed through.

The toll that 4 a.m. wake-ups have taken on me over five years is the reason I’ve decided to move on rather than anything with the lifestyle I’ve enjoyed on the North Coast.

It’s been fun watching this town turn around some things in the last while, but I’m hopeful that the work that’s left to do will no prove too dis-heartening and will be worth everyone’s effort.

People from away have asked me how I can live in such a rainy town and my response has been that in Prince Rupert, “it rains more than you can imagine, but not as much as you think.”

I’ll be missing the consistant weather of PR when I realize I’ve traded it for the minus-40 winter nights of Calgary.

Considering where this place has come from in the five years since I arrived, it’ll be curious to see where things are in another five or ten.

I hope everyone sees the progress in their life and community that they hope for and that surprises are pleasant ones.

All the best,
Russell J. Bowers
CBC Radio

Thanks for a perfect memory
Carla Wintersgill
City Rehab
Monday, August 11, 2008
Page four

I can’t believe it, but the time has already come to write my last column as The Daily News’s summer intern. On Sunday, I’ll be on the ferry for Port Hardy so I can make my way down to Victoria before taking off for Toronto again.

When I live in Scotland I worked in a restaurant where I was friends with a Zimbabwean girl named Leighann. We were both leaving for home on the same week and when we said our goodbyes, Leighann asked me how it felt knowing that we would never see each other again.

I told here I was sure we would see each other again eventually, though she’s probably right. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we’ve recently reunited online but Leighann lives in Harare now. I don’t think I’ll be making it out there any time soon. I can barely make it back to my hometown for any longer than two days at a time.

In some ways, it’s nice that I won’t see Leighann again. She gets to stay as a perfect memory of my time in Edinburgh. She was my sassy friend who took me under wing, showing the ins and outs of the restaurant and guiding me through the city.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Leighann recently because my time in Rupert is coming to an end. My Dad doesn’t live up north anymore, so I don’t have that family connection pulling me here.

I don’t honestly know if coming back to Rupert again is in the cards, but kind of like Leighann it is a fixed memory of a perfect friend, Rupert will forever be the perfect place where I started my career. This was my first real journalism job and, although I was terrified to start, the kindness of this town made all the fear dissipate.

There were my co-workers who put up with my constant questions about who to talk to, patiently explained the background issues to me, pointed me in the right direction and took the time to make sure that I was doing OK. And there were the people that I talk to everyday in my job who also graciously put up with my questions, explained background issues and pointed me in the right direction if I was speaking to the wrong person.

In many ways, working at a newspaper in Prince Rupert is a journalist’s dream. There are not many cities where a reporter has access to the mayor’s cell phone number and the confidence that he will actually call back in a timely manner.

And there aren’t too many newsrooms where the MLA has an office around the corner and is sure to stop by for a chat on Friday afternoon.

Despite its small size, Prince Rupert is a town where the people are actively engaged, informed and concerned about issues that affect them. It’s been a pleasure to have been part of the process this summer.

Thanks for having me.

Baker happy to cook-up move to the Daily News
Journalist keen to take on challenge of reporting city's news
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Page three

The newest addition to The Daily News editorial team is George Baker, who hails from Richmond, B.C.

Before finding his way to journalism, Baker worked full-time and tried a brief stint at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver.

"I did general studies, which were a general waste of time because I didn't really have any direction at all," said Baker.

"I took political science because I thought I was going to be very political. I wasn't. I also took business communications because I thought it was the way to go. It wasn't."

Instead, Baker worked as a house painter, bartender and server.

"Working as a house painter was funny because I'm scared of heights. I would go 20 feet up the ladder, get scared, the wind would blow just slightly and I would run down the ladder and tell my boss that I was quitting," said Baker.

Painting was a seasonal job, but after falling off a ladder one time, he decided he didn't want to do it every season.

"I worked at Earl's for four years. The money was good - probably better than I'm making now - but it really felt like slave labour in some ways," said Baker. "For me, being a journalist is a much better option."

Baker knew he wanted to be a writer and decided to head back to Kwantlen to study journalism.

During his time there, he went to England on exchange, living in small city north of Manchester called Preston.

"When I got to that city, I wasn't really in love with England itself because the city wasn't very pretty," said Baker.

"But when I did travels around the countryside, I really fell in love with the culture, the people and the fact that you can drive two miles and people will be speaking a completely different version of English. To me, that was awesome."

Baker spent two years in England, interning at both the Lancashire Evening Post and the Liverpool Echo along the way. He was impressed by the British journalists' ability to use shorthand as a form of note taking.

"Shorthand is crazy, it looks like hieroglyphics," said Baker, who prefers using a tape recorder for his interviews.

Baker's affinity for the English came through when editor Earle Gale called him about a job at the Daily News.

"That was one of the reasons I jumped at the job because Earle was English and I really like the English," he said.

"I also want to work in the industry. I honestly love the journalism industry. I love the challenges of it."

Although Baker has never been up North before, the wilderness of Prince Rupert attracted him to the town.

"I like hiking and I like nature. That was one of the main reasons that I came here."

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.

No comments: