A death in the family: passion for journalism born, raised at weeklies

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My first byline appeared in the Selkirk Journal about 25 years ago, and I still remember that feeling of pride. It wasn’t much of a story, but it was thrilling for a teenager who was heading off to journalism school. 

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/04/2020 (843 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

My first byline appeared in the Selkirk Journal about 25 years ago, and I still remember that feeling of pride. It wasn’t much of a story, but it was thrilling for a teenager who was heading off to journalism school. 

At the time, the Journal was a thriving community institution. Its many readers scoured the pages every week to see what was happening at council meetings, who was in trouble with the law and who was celebrating a birthday or an anniversary (this was well before social media). And there was advertising — lots of it.

So when the Journal gave me my first job out of college, I was eager to succeed. I worked 50 hours a week. I was a reporter, a photographer, a headline writer, an editor and a designer. I made wages barely above the poverty line. I started work early in the morning and often worked late into the evening. I combed through arrest reports, covered every small-town festival known to man, sat through hours-long rural Manitoba council meetings, attended countless community events and even shot a gun once for a story.

Stacey Thidrickson got her start working at the Selkirk Journal when it was owned by Interlake Publishing.

And I loved it.

That experience helped me hone my skills as a journalist, and gave me a real taste of what it takes to get a newspaper to press, from start to finish. Maybe that’s why I ended up being an editor, because I loved the experience of putting together a newspaper so much.

So when news broke Tuesday that Postmedia Network is permanently shuttering 15 community publications in Manitoba and Ontario — including the Selkirk Journal — due to the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, my heart broke a little.

It broke for all the young reporters who rely on weeklies as a starting ground, a place to develop their journalistic skills — and a place to make mistakes.

It broke for the readers who still rely on their weekly papers to deliver the community news no one else will. Who’s going to cover the municipal council meeting to keep councillors on their toes?

It broke for all the community events that will never get covered or celebrated in print. Who’s going to make a splash about a local festival? Who’s going to write a story about the 100-year-old resident’s birthday?

It broke for the up-and-coming journalists who may never get the experience I had — the long but rewarding days, the lasting friendships, the countless laughs and the feeling of true family.

While we tend to forget about weekly newspapers as we hear more often about the financial struggles of larger media organizations — including the Winnipeg Free Press — the closure of these community institutions is a significant loss.

It’s a sad day for journalism.

So today, I will cherish those memories of my time working at the Journal, as well as my stints at the Interlake Spectator, Stonewall Argus & Teulon Times and Portage la Prairie Graphic.

I owe my career to those places.

I’m so grateful for the times we had together.

 

Stacey Thidrickson is an associate editor at the Winnipeg Free Press

Stacey Thidrickson

Stacey Thidrickson
Associate editor, news

Stacey Thidrickson got a taste for journalism as a teenager when she got her first byline in the Selkirk Journal — the same newspaper that helped launch her career more than 20 years ago.

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