Friday, July 09, 2010

Farewells and Remembrances of the Daily News (Chapter One)

With the clock seemingly ticking towards a final edition of the Daily News, the staff members have begun to put together their remembrances of the paper they clearly were dedicated towards and thoughts on the news that arrived in their office earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Monica Lamb Yorski and Patrick Witwicki began the process of closure for the long time fixture of the Prince Rupert media scene.

A casualty of the times 
Monica Lamb-Yorski 
Prince Rupert Daily News 
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 
Page 4 

Like a scene in a movie, we stood around the main office Monday morning. Black Press’s Frank Teskey was hereto tell us weʼd be out of a job bySeptember 3. We, usually with verbosity running over, were speechless.

I wasnʼt surprised, only validated that l’d spent my weekend worrying. When we heard Friday the paper had been sold, I was convinced we’d been bought for a closure.

It comes as a double whammy on my home front. My husband learned of his pending job loss on his birthday, April 12. My birthday is in a few weeks. My mom's convinced it means we’re in store for good things.

Matthew has worked at the Ministry of Forests here for almost 15 years. In fact, it was a closure of the regional office in Nelson that brought us to Prince Rupert.

When the Ministry of Forests was downsizing from seven regions to five, he applied for jobs in Deanne Lake, Alexis Creek and Prince Rupert.

Being a prairie boy from Winnipeg, I was surprised when he returned from his interview in Prince Rupert and said he loved it, but didnʼt think heʼd get the job.

Well he did, so we sold our one side of duplex, left family and friends, and headed northwest, dedicated to stay here to raise our kids.

I come from a tradition of digging in where you live and I can honestly say that’s what we’ve done. 

Through our six children we’ve met sports families, drama and dance fame lies. Through my love of culture, Iʼve participated on the arts council and attended many fine performances at the Lester Centre and at the Tom Rooney Playhouse.

My five and a half years of working at the archives gave me an in depth view of the area’s history and my years of freelancing and eventual employment at the Prince Rupert Daily News let me learn about and document our modern history

When I took up the City Hall beat last February, I decided I'd enjoy the experience as if I was enrolled in a municipal government course.

In the last few months I ventured into writing some feature pieces about places like the landfill, the log site in the industrial park, concrete float building, Maher Terminals and people in general.

In a way I was just getting started on this career, stumbling over my own comprehension of things Iʼd never paid much attention to like coal prices, container ports and municipal taxes.

I have to admit I’ve never stopped being nervous about properly representing people, places and things. 

Those who know me personally wouldnʼt describe me as "thick skinned". In fact, it’s something editor Wendy Webb has been telling me I would have to develop if I want to survive this profession.

It’s not easy when you’re the personality type that cries when you’re angry. It makes you vulnerable at the best of times.

But weʼre all different and I think that’s what makes newspapers work. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues.

What doesn’t work is an economic climate like ours where there isn’t enough room for two newspapers.

In a day and age when the Internet is a main source of news for many and press releases are accessible to anyone, even police reports, it’s tough.

At the Daily News we attempted to focus on local stories and the people that make up our community. 

And that has been the most rewarding aspect of the job and a privilege Iʼll always be grateful for.

I want to thank everyone that I’ve written about, those that have been patient with my learning, and encourage others to continue writing about this great and wonderful place.

History has a way of repeating itself, after all the Daily News purchased its competitor The Evening Empire in 1947.

Six decades later three Daily News employees left to start the Northwest Weekly, the predecessor of the Northern View.

Iʼve often joked about standing on a street corner yelling "Extra Extra Read All About It" and handing out flyers with a story or two printed on them.

Ninety-nine years ago when the Optimist became the Daily News, there were probably young newsies doing just that.

In fact local headlines on July 7, 1911 talked of a Dry Dock in sight, flowers and fruit from Porcher Island at the Prince Rupert market, and the night before the Baptist Brotherhood had their pictures taken on the steps of the Government Buildings.

The newspaper had a long future ahead of it, living shy of a hundred years. Now sadly that future has now been put out to pasture.

I wish my fellow coworkers the best of luck and thank each of them for let ting me be part of the team. 

The end of an era 
Patrick Witwicki 
The English Substitute 
Prince Rupert Daily News 
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 
Page 4

 "Life is no more assuring than love
(its time to take the time)
There are no answers from voice above
(its time to take the time)
Youʼre fighting the weight of the world and no one can save you this time
Close your eyes, you’ll find all you need in your mind .
 - - excerpt from "Take the Time,’ Dream Theater, circa 1992

When I was in college, one particular message of advice rang the loudest: ‘Don’t get attached to the outcome, because when you do, it can hold you back." So it shouldnʼt surprise anyone that this editorial Iʼm struggling to compose is the darkest, most difficult one I’ve ever had to create.

Because you know what, I’m as attached as one could ever be when it comes to that particular outcome.

As reported on page three, the Prince Rupert Daily News was purchased by Black Press on July 1st, and they have decided to close us down, effective September 3, although the final edition of the Daily News may occur even before then.

Ironic, isnʼt it, that this is happening in a time where I’ve tried to reverse the trend. You know what I’m talking about the previous history where Daily News reporters came to town, put in their year, and then bolted as soon that next rainbow peaked out over Tuck Inlet.

But I was here for seven years. And in that time, the trend actually reversed itself at the other end of the spectrum instead of yet another Lower Mainland-based reporter running for the hills as soon as the ink was dry, here I was, sticking around, falling in love with Rupert —— and watching everyone else around me leave.

In my seven years, we changed ownership three times, albeit, the most recent one simply a formality. We went through three publishers and a general manager, we watched our production department be shifted over to the Peace country, and also went through two editors, including one, I’m sure many would agree, who had seemed like he would be here forever.

During that time period, we also had some outstanding reporters pass through these walls, including those who are currently working for us at this moment. Many times, people within the community were rather ticked at these reporters for various stories, but that just means the Daily News was simply doing its job.

And yet, it was I, who at times belligerently, I might add — professed I would be the last bastion, I would always be here, I would never leave. I loved Rupert, I married into Rupert, hell, I even invested in Rupert when I bought a house last year. Perhaps I was a fool, perhaps I didn’t do my home work, or perhaps, somewhere in my heart. I alwnvs believed the Daily News would always be here, because, as Prince Rupert has ticked over the past 100 years, so has this publication.

And in turn, that would mean I always would be here.

But the reality these days, in the newspaper world, is that when some one takes the time to think it over, if those thoughts don’t remain black, and instead seep red, they cut their losses. Glacier, who initially purchased us from Hollander back in 2006, hung in there, and while some of their deci sions may not have panned out, they kept hoping, just like everyone in this town, that the economy would event ally turn around, and things would get better. Unfortunately, it never did, so they decided it was time to sell. 

Black Press stepped in, bought us (along with other publications in B.C. and Alberta), and decided the business simply wasn’t viable. If Glacier was the glass half—full, Black Press believes it’s half—empty, and decided that after years of the Daily News losing money, they just couldn’t keep it going. It’s a business decision, we see them all the time, more-so than ever lately in this current recession.

Hell, for the past seven years, we’ve covered these stories, all-too-often in this town. I just never thought we’d be one of them.

But this isn’t just happening in Rupert when it comes to newspapers, as weʼve seen recently with publications all over the globe. Seattle, Chicago, Hawaii, even Toronto, we just don’t live in a society that relies on print media like they used to. And that’s too bad, considering how much news our small newsroom had to cover on a regular basis.

Three stories a day, and then some? What other Daily anywhere in this country can proudly announce that, and be taken seriously? Every single person in this office had a sense of pride working for the Daily News, to carry on what had become a very proud tradition on the North Coast, and even those who have moved on in past years would almost certainly echo my thoughts.

Even as recently as 2008, I thought Prince Rupert was on the cusp, and perhaps we still are. Perhaps we still will be five years from now. Maybe Canpotex comes to town, maybe we get phase two at the port. 

But then again, maybe not.

Yeah, seven years, and now Iʼm starting to sound like a Rupertite. Yeah, the sun eventually does come out, and yeah, maybe one day I will be here to experience Rupert when we finally do turn this little town around.

Still, I would have loved to have been in the newsroom, camera around my shoulder, notepad in one hand, pen in the other, ready to break that story There’s not many people who get to experience that feeling when you break that incredible story. That has always been the allure of a daily paper it was there, you could read about it, and at times, you could truly feel what both the people in the story, and what that reporter were feeling.

Unfortunately, not long from now, that one little luxury this town still had, a daily newspaper specifically focused on covering local news, will be gone after 99 years. Sure, the Northern View will still be here, David Black’s footprint in this town will still be here, heck, I’ll still be here.

And maybe one day, I’ll get to see our little town finally recover.

It’s just too bad we won’t be the ones getting to write about it.

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