Sunday, July 18, 2010

Farewells and Remembrances of the Daily News (Closing chapter, current staff)

Good byes are always the hardest thing to do, the emotions, memories and shared experiences rush to the front of the memory banks whenever the time to part company comes along.

Friday's Daily News, the last printed copy of the papers 99 year run provided a flood of those memories and sentiments as some of the paper 's current roster made their farewells and some past contributors to that paper's history shared their memories of days past.

In many of these final thoughts, the recurring theme of each piece has been the  shared history of their time while reporting on the news and events of the city and the impact that this city has had no their time here.

We imagine that having to think back over the years of those times would be a rather emotional exercise, yet with their words they have provided us with a window into their time, the challenges, frustrations and successes that they faced along the way.

A few of our regular readers on this blog are former residents who have used it to keep up to date on events on the town they once called home, they may recognize more than a few names of the past and wondered about some of the others who provided the account of this city's events over the years.

Most likely time was the paper's enemy,  the paper rushed from the sold category to the closed in such a short period of time, leaving a printing deadlines on a final edition something that most likely meant that some old names couldn't be reached in time or fell out of contact, those that did contribute however provide us with some snapshots of what once was.

For the archives, the final thoughts from the final edition. Part one features the current staff, following that will be the voices of the past and our final part of the trilogy, the tribute that appeared in Friday's paper to all those that worked at 801 Second Avenue West.

The Final Word 
George T. Baker 
Tsunami Hazard 
Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, July 16, 2010 

It’s bad on one hand on and on the other hand [the Daily News] is the reason I carry gasoline and glass bottles in the back of my truck. Sometimes you love them and sometimes you hate them."— Anonymous local politician on the closing of the Daily News.

In 1947, Edward T Folliard was the last reporter to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Telegraphic reporting. The White House correspondent for the Washington Post from 1923 to 1967, Folliard had actually won his prize reporting on the Colombians Inc., a Nazi group out of Atlanta.

The story's lead goes like this:

"A Confederate flag hangs outside the headquarters of the Columbians Inc., located at 82 Barrow St., but it doesn't look right. Something alien-like has been woven in between the stars and bars. It is a jagged red streak and somehow it looks familiar.

 "That crazy red streak is the Columbians insignia, a symbolic thunderbolt that proclaims the arrival of a new and spectacular hate organization in the Southland.

 "The motto of the Columbians is Race, Nation, Faith, but its wide—eye orators put it more crudely 

"'This is white mans country,’ they shout, and then go on to tell what they are going to do about it."

The writing is crisp and precise. The issue was of national importance because it addressed the major social questions that still define the United States to this day — of race and racial prejudice lt was a journalistic master stroke of topical feature storytelling for which Folliard was justly recognized.

The telegraph, which had become a central part of Folliard's work, affected the content of his reports so much that opinion was less common. That's because the cost was so expensive that only the facts could be transmitted, which probably improved the work .

However lasting Folliard's article is, the telegraphic medium for which he was recognized for using was not.

It was the late 1990s when a 40-year old invention called the Internet became widespread in use and application That included the news. News could now be transmitted for free directly to your home, which meant for all intents and purposes, the industrywas going to change.

Since then, journalism has continued to evolve. Reporters no longer "tap-tap—tap—tap" the news, but record images, voices and words on the spot and transmit it for billions of people to see in nano-seconds.

That change has altered the news coverage game. News is no longer waiting to be broken. lt is breaking as we speak. lt is very exciting and chaotic. lt’s fast and cheap and filled with opinion. My biggest regret at the Daily News is that we didn’t progress fast enough with the changing mediums.

But we never set out to invent the wheel at the Daily News. We just tried to do the best job we could. We did try All of us. And Iʼm not talking solely about the recent era. I’m talking about every reporter over 99 years, who for better or worse wanted to show that they were more than capable of looking after the news.

Sometimes that was just taking a nice photo on a rare sunny Prince Rupert day. Other times that meant getting the real scoop on why a bunch of crazy fishermen were blockading a poor Georgian professor who just wanted to get on with his vacation and out of this Podunk town.

Whatever it is that drove them, they went after it... usually.

I place myself in that group. I never wanted to be the best journalist to ever step into 801 Second Ave. West. I wanted to be the best journalist that I could be.

To Monica Lamb-Yorski: Your work as an advocate for arts and culture was a big part of the history of this paper and this town. Without your desire to bring forth the latest in social events, this town’s cultural community and lovers of art would be a poorer group.

To Patrick Witwicki aka The Sports Stud: Your passion for sports and belching provided your office neighbour, Agent Negative, with great rea sons for debate and gasps of fresh air. I have no idea how they replace you in this town. They probably donʼt. And I still donʼt know what you ate.

To Wendy Webb: There were times I wanted to kill you. But your constant nagging, revision and balanced approach to investigative news stories kept me on my toes and probably (though I loathe to admit it) made me a more conscientious reporter. So I kept my poison in my top drawer.

To Earle Gale: I don’t speak Chinese. But thanks for hauling my butt off my father’s couch and bringing me up here. And the support you showed me in my early days was invaluable.

To Kris Schumacher: Though you now serve drinks on a Vancouver beach, somewhere down in your soul lives a reporter.

To the deer who keep causing minor traffic jams in the morning: Seriously, if I run over Bambi I am not going to feel an ounce of remorse.

Whether we covered the news with a positive spin or a negative spin was always a matter of perspective.

A local subscriber stopped by the Daily News on Wednesday. He brought in a letter that thanked Wendy, Monica and myself for our work and positive approach to the news. It didn’t appear sarcastic. It seemed quite genuine.

But I also think of having been accused in November of 2008 of helping the paper’s "notable shift to negativity" which the Mayor of Prince Rupert at the time said, "is troubling and serves our community poorly."

It seemed that no matter how we covered the news, someone was complaining. That’s the one thing that won’t change in news coverage. I think it’s cathartic for people to blame editorial staff for how screwed up the world is. Remember that old saying, "Don’t shoot the messenger"? We should all wear bullet-proof vests.

So whether we got it right or wrong during our time at the Daily News, the many reporters, collators, production staff, pressmen, publishers, trained monkeys, paper deliverers, secretaries, advertising reps and Val Campbell did the best they could.

And Iʼm pretty sure, if you average it out over the 99 years, that we were right at least 27 per cent of the time.

"There is a Daily News office located at 801 Second Ave, West, but it doesn’t look right. Something odd has befallen the interior. Itʼs hallow and sad and somehow looks familiar in this down town setting. 

"That crazy roar of the press room, a symbolic thunder clap that proclaims the arrival of news, has become mute as of today, Idly 16, 2010.

"The motto of the Daily News Since 1911 is now a calling to the past.

"The now weepy eyes of the former employees, who once joyfully entered the office each morning, cry outside, blurring their walking direction, and leaving them lost such as the deer who cross the road at an excruciatingly slow pace.

 "A clearly insane man in a blue and silver Chevy pickup yells at them that ‘This is rain country!’ and then goes on to tell that them that there is really nothing to do about it.ʼ

The last day of the Daily News 
Top Shelf 
Patrick Witwicki 
Prince Rupert Daily News 

“We’ve reached the edge of an era
The light stopped shining here
The bested robin starves in hunger
Choking back a single tear
Wondering if we can ever Overcome this ebbing fear... of losing..
Don’t wanna leave. Don’t wanna feel such sorrow
Not knowing where we’ll be this time tomorrow
I’m losing family much more than an old friend
And I wonder is this a beginning... or is it the end?
excerpt from “The End of an Era,”
Copyrighted 1990

I hurt, my co workers hurt, hell, this entire town... hurts. The closure of the Daily News is unfortunately just another reflection of how Rupert is hurting, and has been hurting for some time.

Whenever I’m hurting, or I’m angry, or sad (or in this case, all of the above), I find myself turning to my first love - music. Yeah, I love sports, always have, always will, and was fortunate to have a job that I loved. I was paid money to sit on my butt, watch sports, and then write about it.

What a gig.

And yet... if only I had made it as a rock star. I tried, damn it, I tried. But every band I joined, started, or happened to fall into, something kept us from getting somewhere. Usually, the band broke up, and in one specific case, losing our singer is what did us in. Ironically, the last band I was in, the Dry Cleaners, probably had the best shot at stardom in Vancouver, not because we were that good, but because our guitar player, a fellow college grad of mine, was also the Vancouver writer for Charts Magazine. He had contacts through the wazoo, and we had the potential of getting gigs... everywhere.

And yet, because I knew I needed to start my career, or I’d be wearing a name-tag behind a photo counter for the rest of my life, when this job here in Rupert popped up, I took it.

For seven years, that seemed like the best decision I ever made. I fell in love with this little North Coast gem, I met the woman of my dreams, and I was getting paid to cover sports.

What a gig.

However, over the past two weeks, the happiness has truly worn off. Suddenly, everything I’ve done, everything I’ve thought of the past seven years, seems irrelevant. It’s always easy to look back, isn’t it? A lot easier than it is try and imagine the future.

That’s why, on these pages, I’ve included final columns from everyone who took the time to help me out and write about local sports over my past seven years - from Reggie Huskins to Keith Lambourne, and of course the added luster of both Moe Hays and David Costa. Adam Moore and Steve Maguire would make that list too.

It’s also why, as I alluded to in Wednesday’s column, I’ve included, in this final edition, what was my favourite story from my seven years - Remember the Kings (part two)

And of course, the biggest sports story - Prince Rupert minor hockey winning its first-ever provincial banners.

Back in March I suggested that this story easily might be covered as the sports story of this century when Rupert celebrates its 200th birthday. 

But I can’t help thinking, in these dark days, will we still get there?

And maybe I am suddenly like everyone else here in town - when exactly are we going to turn this around? The Daily News closing - is it a new beginning for me, my career, and as a Rupertite, or ... is this the end?

Back in 1990, as I was nearing my high school graduation, I was scared. My grades, aside from English, P. E. and band, wouldn’t impress a parent, never mind a university.

An emotional wreck, I wrote the song you saw quoted above, entitled “The end of and Era.” Yeah, there’s a reason why I picked that headline for my editorial last Wednesday.’’

Twelve years later, when I finally had a college degree in my back-pocket , I found myself thinking about that same song. I never recorded, hell, the band I was in back in 1990 never wound up playing it. 

But once again, it was apropos. After 1990, like most grads, I barely saw any of those people again. After 2001, you bet, almost the same thing.

And now ... 2010.

We really have reached the end of an era, haven’t we? And not a good one, either.

At least after graduation, there’s hope for the future, even though you know things are about to change. 

But when a newspaper shuts down after 99 years?

Prince Rupert isn’t alone when it comes to the newspaper business, everything’s changing, and unfortunately, I would argue things are going to get worse before they ever get better.

As for Rupert itself? For years, while sitting in this chair, covering the latest local sports story, I, like everyone else in this town, kept hoping things would get better.

It hasn’t happened though. As I alluded to in my editorial last week, maybe it will. And maybe I’ll still be here when it does finally occur.

Then again, I could have been a rock star too.

That said, thank you Prince Rupert for letting me become a part of this community. I loved being there to cover the Rainmakers (and that one year, the Hurricanes) dominating the sport of basketball, I loved my 16-hour gauntlet covering the All-Native, and I loved reminiscing and chatting to local sports icons who have not only exceeded at their sport, but have gone on to reach the hall-of-fame in their respective sports, like John Olsen, Ken Shields, and Lisa Walters.

And yes, I will even miss Reggie’s daily visits to the Daily News. In fact, I have a feeling everyone will.

I love this town, and I truly hope I never have to leave. That would be my choice for new beginnings. 

It’s just a shame it had to end.

Good memories 
Ed Evans 
Daily News Sales Rep 1992-2010 

Well, the day we never thought would arrive is here. This is the final edition of the Prince Rupert Daily News.

I will leave with some great memories of staff or should I say friends I have shared part of my life with. 

My first day I was sitting at my new desk looking at the reporters John Farrell and Jeremy Hainsworth sword fighting over their desks with mailing tubes. I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Another memory was Kerry Kobel, Kerry was into sports and he was in a lot of sports photos, because of all of the teams he was on. Rudy Kelly, the Sports Guru at the time, was a good friend of Kobel and felt that it was his duty to spice up Kobel’s life. Every photo that Kelly took of Kobel, he had his eyes closed. When asked how he did that Kelly replied that ”I just keep taking photo’s until he blinks”.

Then there was “Long Haul Larry, the reporter. Larry made the trip out to Prince Rupert from New Brunswick and started right in doing a few stories and then writing his first column on Friday. This column was about how reporters always say that they will be here for a long time. Larry stated that he loved the community and unlike the others, he really meant it, he was here for the “Long Haul”.

The following Monday morning Larry told us that he was going to step out for a smoke. We didn’t notice that he had his suitcase sitting outside. Later on in the day the Publisher asked if anyone had seen the new reporter. We all admitted we hadn’t seen him in a few hours. The circulation Manager informed us that she had seen him get on the Greyhound bus. So much for the long haul.

My First Ads Manager was Karen Meyers. She was just a little excitable and one day she was showing us a newspaper she had picked up. As we looked at the paper she kept repeating “that this is the only copy so be careful”. After I looked at it, I set it down on my desk and picked up a copy of our paper. I ripped up our paper saying” that was interesting, what’s next?” Poor Karen, turned around and screeched as she almost hit the ceiling. After realizing what I really tore up, she laughed and threatened to get me back later.

I have some great memories of my co-workers at the Daily News and I will miss them and the hectic work pace at the paper.

Good bye to the paper, my co-workers and my clients. I will miss you and all the great memories. 

Goodbye my friend
By Judi Clark Circulation Manager
Prince Rupert Daily News 2008-2010

 In my short time @ The Prince Rupert Daily News, I have grown to love & hate my job. The first day I shadowed the Circulation Manager. The second day I went into work, she just didn’t show up. I was on the verge of tears, (by noon) because disgruntled subscribers started calling, and assumed I was her. This was my sudden introduction to the Circulation world. I bravely jumped headfirst into this unknown alien place of the newspaper business. And now less than two years later, I don’t want it to end.

Since day one, I have tried to fix the problems which were left to me, by the previous managers. Some very unreliable carriers, who were fired. I tried desperately to appease most of the very unsatisfied subscribers. There didn’t seem to be anything I could do right for anyone. Even the days I walked out of this building with 600-700+ papers on Wed/Fri. Delivering till 11 pm. Coming in on week-ends to catch up on my work, because I was too busy delivering papers, for the carriers that quit without notice, or because it was too wet or cold, or they were sick.

Then the black boxes! They were like a gift from heaven, the perfect solution, or so I thought. They could have worked, except for the few carriers that decided this was the place to dump your papers, just so long as subscribers got their papers, who would be the wiser. Guess what?? Who do you think filled the black boxes? I knew exactly where the papers had been dumped by the carrier. But I had been told earlier, I couldn’t fire anymore carriers.

I have had some of the most amazing carriers, whole families helping each other to deliver the paper. Taking extra routes when I asked them. Just driving past carriers in the blinding, pouring rain that could bounce a foot or more off the ground, seeing a little smile or a wave. I am so damn proud of all the carriers. Most did the job, those that did not, know that they were wrong. My relief carriers, were my lifesavers.

Chris Green, who could single-handedly put anyone to shame. Someone as old as your grandma, who was out delivering papers, rain or shine. Winter!

My amazing husband, David Piche, he has been on the roller coaster ride called my job. He has been by my side through it all. Helping to deliver papers, even after he had worked a full day himself. Never complaining when I was too cranky Having no dinner, because I was still at the office. He is the one thing in my life that has kept me sane. I love you for that.

My circulation staff, you are the greatest. We have had to compromise, and listen to each other. Pam Morrison, you have been my right arm. Thank you.

My co-workers (friends), we are the most diverse group of people on this planet. We all have our own space called life. But we were united in our fight to make the Daily News our paper. I feel like I am leaving a member of my family behind, and I can only hope we all stay in touch. Thank you for letting me join you for this short time. I have had the most rewarding experiences working with and knowing all of you.

Kandie, you were my trainer, my mentor, and will always be my friend.

Mike Archer (General Manager) you have been my boss, and friend, we have had to deal with a lot of issues as a team. Some days, I wanted to strangle you.

Thank you to William Julian (Regional Publisher, Glacier Media) for giving me the opportunity to join the Daily News team. Thank you to all the subscribers who apple cited our hometown paper. The local news with personal touches. I will miss "The Prince Rupert Daily News"

Wow! That’s all I can say 
Nicole Silab 
Sales, Ed Asst, 2006-2010 

Wow l can’t believe this newspaper is actually closing and that this is our final day. I never thought that this day would come while I was still around.

After 99 years of serving this community and providing the local news as accurately as possible, the Daily News is no more. Looking back through the old editions itʼs amazing how much the times have changed and the memorable events that were covered not just locally but also internationally.

The Daily News has had stories on every major event that has happened, from the birth of Prince Rupert, the Titanic sinking, the lost time capsule (hehehe), right through until today. Every transition that Prince Rupert has gone through the Daily News has been there. This newspaper has been an institution.

Having worked here off and on through the years first as a carrier, doing work experience, working in circulation, sales, the front, and finally ending up here in the editorial department.

The staff here has become like family through the good the bad and the ugly, we all have had our differences and our disagreements squabbling like siblings but have always worked them out. I will definitely leave here with many fond memories and will sadly miss everyone here.

Thanks everyone for the good times and good laughs and my weekly cheap thrills. Wendy thanks for letting me tap into your mind and for putting up with all of my little idiosyncrasies... I’m sure I drove you absolutely crazy with asking the same questions over and over again, the little ‘hangy things’ I leave on at least one page.

Patrick, George, Monica, everyone in circulation, Ed, Chad, Darren, Gord,Val, Mike, Leona, Ann, Trevor, and everyone else who I have worked with over the years, thanks for keeping me entertained for so many years!

You guys Rock!!

 I wish everyone the best in what ever and where ever they may go, I am really going to miss working with everyone.

We run the press, put out our final paper and close the doors knowing that each one of us in this office over the years busted our butts putting out. the best damn paper that we could.

All good things come to an end and this seems to be harder than most...

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