Today was the last day that the Kamloops Daily News (KDN) published. After over 80 years of serving Kamloops, it was announced on January 3 that it would be closing within 60 days. Five days later, it came to an end.
I know this post will most likely be irrelevant to most of my readers, especially since the majority of you I’m assuming don’t even live in Canada, let alone B.C., but the closure of the Daily News has hit everyone in the community, including myself, hard.
I grew up with the Daily News. Living in a small town just outside of Kamloops, I looked forward to the comics in the paper, especially the colour ones on the weekend. When I was in Grade 1 or 2, I drew a weather drawing and it was featured on page 2 with the forecast for the day. As I got older and thought about a career after high school, journalism had gained my interest after enjoying the tedious task of piecing together our school’s annual yearbook. I thought it would be amazing one day to be the editor-in-chief at the Daily News. While it wasn’t my first career choice, journalism landed its place in my life after I quickly learned that writing was a better fit for me than crunching numbers. Follow your heart, they say …
I enrolled in J-School. Those first interviews and articles we were assigned to conduct were the most terrifying thing I had done in my life up to that point. Naturally introverted, reporting pushed me to open up and make myself a little vulnerable. My husband still wonders how I can be sometimes be so quiet around the house and not say much, but turn on my “reporter, get sh!t done” voice when I need to.
I landed a job at the university newspaper. I graduated. I scored a job at a great little neighbourhood newspaper. And finally, an ad came up in the Daily News for a job in their traffic (ad placement) department. I applied. I got an interview with the advertising manager. It turned out that they had already found a person for the job, but they wanted to offer me a position in their classifieds department. The manager knew that I held a journalism degree and mentioned that the job wasn’t really in my field of studies, but because I dreamt of working at the Daily, I was hired. A little more than a week later, I was a sweaty ball of nerves starting my new job at my dream employer. Heaven.
A couple months after I had started, the special sections editor had returned from her maternity leave and the advertising manager asked if I’d be interested in doing some freelance writing for her. I sent her some writing samples from my work at the university paper, and not long after that I was writing Q&A stories and began my side-job of as a freelance journalist.
In 2011, right as I was coming off my time off from getting married, there was a job opening in the editorial department for an editorial assistant. The woman who currently held that position was moving to join her husband, who lost his job when the press shut down, in the Lower Mainland. I scraped together a cover letter and resume and emailed it across the office to the editor, Mel Rothenburger. I will admit that even though I had been at the Daily for over a year, he still intimidated me. I believe it was only about two days later when he came casually strolling towards my desk in the classifieds department and asked to see me in his office. I guess my coworkers in classifieds knew that he wanted to talk to me, but I was clueless and I instantly started to freak out.
I don’t remember much about that interview, except for when Mel asked me why he should hire me for the job. I told him that I wanted to be editor-in-chief one day. The next day, I was offered the job.
Moving into the newsroom was it for me. From there, I figured I’d be able to build my career and make a name for myself in Kamloops. To me, it was more than just answering the phone (though no one could complete with my fast phone-answering skills) and filing letters to the editor (which always made me laugh or groan). It was a step in the right direction. Every so often I was asked to do some call backs for press releases and put together quick news briefs when the reporters were slammed with work. I even landed a byline on the front of the sports section when the sports desk was short-staffed and no one could attend a news conference the next morning.
When I became pregnant with Isla, there was no question about whether or not I’d return to work after my maternity leave was up. Sadly, last April when I was confirming the days and hours I’d be returning to for daycare organization, I was asked to come to the office to speak with the publisher, Tim. He had to unfortunately tell me that the head office has decided that due to economical reasons, they would be eliminating my job position after my return. (Since they can’t eliminate it while I’m on leave.) Even more unfortunately, since I was only a part-time employee, they didn’t have to find a new “home” for me within the company. I was devastated and I’m pretty sure I made Tim feel pretty awkward when I couldn’t hold the tears back and started sobbing like a baby in his office. (Sorry about that, Tim!) After I went home and collected my thoughts, I took the turn of events as a blessing in disguise since I could now stay home and raise my daughter. I visited the office as much as I could and was always welcomed with a smile. (and if Isla was with me – a crowd)
Unfortunately, with the Daily News now closing permanently, there are 55 people now out of a job. Many of them have children, some of them the sole income earner of their household. I cannot even imagine what must have gone through their minds during Monday’s announcement. Even more so during Thursday’s announcement that Saturday (today) would be the last paper ever published.
I know I was only actually at the Daily News for two years before going on maternity leave, but I feel I owe it so much. I worked with some amazing individuals whom I like to consider friends. I gained an appreciation for the art of journalism, for contrary to what many non-journos may believe, it’s more than just asking people questions and writing down answers. I became more knowledgeable of the city I live in.
Reading the last paper today brought tears to my eyes. I’m going to miss seeing the Daily News in the news stands and reading it daily. I’m going to miss seeing those names in the bylines of the people I worked with and learned from. I hope that they are able to somehow go on bringing remarkable stories to the public, because they are truly talented and deserve to share their gift.
Thank you so much, Kamloops Daily News, for making my life so much better. I’ll miss you.