Opinion teaser

From the basement to a career in journalism

Looking back on over 25 years with Barriere’s North Thompson Star/Journal

I reached a personal milestone recently. One that actually surprised the “you know what” out of me as I had no idea how long I have been a part of this newspaper until Black Press congratulated me on 25 years with the North Thompson Star/Journal.

It truly was a jaw dropping moment when our publisher, Martina Dopf, stopped in at the newspaper office to present me with cards of congratulation, a bouquet of flowers, lunch, congratulations from those further up the ladder and a Black Press watch to mark the occasion.

Where did all that time go?

Seems like only a few years ago that I was head of the newspaper’s mailroom. Our mailroom ran out of the basement of the old forestry building on Borthwick where the Yellowhead Star resided before it became the Star/Journal. Tim Francis was owner and publisher at that time, and when I applied for the job I remember him clearly saying to me that he was looking for someone long term for the position – who could’ve guessed where that would lead.

My mailroom job was overseeing a group of collators one day a week who came in early on Sunday mornings to stuff flyers into the newspaper, and then get them out for delivery from Heffley Creek to Blue River every Sunday. I think we were a pretty motley crew back then, but we had a great time chatting it up while everyone stuffed the flyers into the papers and I then tied them into bundles of 10 or 20 for the delivery driver and for the post office.

We often had potluck lunches that we shared and enjoyed down there in the basement, we told stories, talked about the highs and lows of our lives, and made many friendships that have lasted to this day.

Tim sold the newspaper 25 years ago to the company known today as Black Press, and we continued to be “The first word in the Valley” for our readers.

At some point in time the gal in reception moved on, and when that happened I moved to full time with the newspaper by taking over the reception position. I still ran the Sunday mailroom, but I did love getting out of the basement.

I especially loved the opportunity to learn how a newspaper is built from scratch every week, and I’m pretty sure this was the beginning of my journalism career.

When the current issue was finally all printed out from an office printer, then pasted up onto big sheets called flats (no such thing back then as sending the newspaper by email to the press), it was boxed up and put on a Greyhound bus to Vernon to be printed into a newspaper.

One time that box of flats went to Spokane for some unknown reason, and another time I don’t think it ever was discovered where the box eventually ended up. That meant the whole crew had to rush back to the newspaper, and redo everything that had taken about two days to prepare in no more than three hours.

Then someone had to jump in a vehicle and beat it to Vernon to make the press deadlines and then beat it back to Barriere with the finished product for our readers.

It was also a time when if you had a page with colour ads or coloured photographs on, you had to print four different coloured sheets from the little newspaper office printer for each photograph. These sheets were colour coded in a way that told the printing press what the colours would be in the photographs or ads.

Unfortunately, back then the office printers were just starting to be able to handle this job, and although they were able to do it, the time it took to print out four tabloid sheet sized pages to create the colour pages in the newspaper was incredible.

The most memorable of those events was one December when staff had rushed to get the newspaper ready to go early so we could all attend our annual Christmas party at the Station House Restaurant that evening. However, as this newspaper was our special Christmas issue it had numerous colour pages, which meant overworking our poor little printer to the point where it was barely able to work at all.

Amazingly it took something like five hours to print out those sheets, which meant we had to keep sending someone from the party back to the newspaper to see how the printer was doing. Then, when it had completed one set of four pages, you had to tell it to start the next set.

As the evening wore on, and the party drinks flowed, it was actually pretty incredible that any of us could find the newspaper or the printer by the end of the night. Fortunately, the Christmas issue made the newsstands on time, and no one was the wiser.

In later years I moved into the advertising and production department. What a fun place to work when it came to letting your creative juices flow in ad design and promotional materials. It was also a gigantic leap into the world of computer programs, and of course the internet and digital photography were also improving.

I moved into a corner of the editorial department when I began paginating pages for our editor Ann Piper. Paginating is when you take the story, the photographs and the advertisements and place them onto a page so that everything fits and is in the spot where it belongs. For many years most of this was done by physical cut and paste methods, but thank goodness computers came along and they now do the job for you.

During this time I started doing some reporting and photography for the Star/Journal as well, and I even did a stint as the editorial cartoonist for about a year.

In 2004 Ann Piper retired and I moved into the editor’s chair. What a ride that has been and continues to be to this day.

Being an editor means you find the stories, take the pictures, inform your readers and embrace the pulse of your community. Together we have been through good times and bad. We have laughed together and cried together. We have fundraised, protested and made our voices heard at the right time and in the right place to help our community grow, prosper and continue to be a “great place to live and raise a family.”

We have weathered floods, ice storms and wildfires. In fact, during the McLure Wildfire in 2003, the only living being left on duty at the Star/Journal when Barriere was evacuated was my budgie! Yep, my budgie.

The poor bird couldn’t handle the smoke that was so heavy in the air during the evacuation, and my husband and I were some of the last few to leave the community. Our only option was to leave the budgie in his cage on a table in the cool smoke free basement of the Star/Journal with plenty of food and water to see him through.

Our hope was that the building would still be there in the morning and so would the budgie.

It was actually 24 hours before we could get back in, but there was the newspaper building and there was the bird cage in the basement on the table — and the budgie was just fine!

That’s something like the Star/Journal, it will always be here — and it’s just fine as well.

Thanks for listening and being constant readers, hopefully I can continue to inform, entertain and be your voice for a few more years yet.

District of Barriere

Just Posted

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

This bird’s eye view shows the tanker truck fire on Highway 24. Black smoke could be seen from a far distance. (Photo submitted by Kurtis Rainer)
RCMP respond to tanker fire in Little Fort

The Clearwater detachment responded to 37 calls this past week.

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

logo
Evacuation alert issued for residents south of Lytton

The TNRD Emergency Operations Centre in Kamloops says a wildfire in the area poses a threat to structures and residents.

Most Read