By Marshall Jones
I called my assistant editor John McDonald to the Glenrosa fire a few minutes after it started. It was a little tough getting him in on a Saturday but it was nearly impossible to get him to leave. I sat in my van in a long line of evacuees watching fire grow from his general position, knowing he had long ago abandoned his own vehicle. On cell phone contact, over the sound of fire, wind and fire trucks, all I could hear was him swearing and yelling, mostly at me for telling him to get out of there.
It was easily the highlight of my time at Kelowna.com. Truth is I can’t find too many lowlights beyond, perhaps, daily reports of readership statistics. Yikes.
If anyone had more fun than I had over the past 10 months at Kelowna.com, it was John McDonald. John and I have worked together for years, mostly watching news pass us by at the Capital News while we waited two or three more days for a print deadline. Don’t get me wrong, we always did good work—as they do now—but it was often irrelevant by the time anyone read it.
Working on the web finally gave us a chance to compete and no one was more willing to race out to news than John was. We were like puppies who finally snuck through the fence of the yard.
On the way into this, I made much of the greater picture. I am passionate about journalism. It breaks my heart to see it failing and I wanted to find its future with this website and I failed. A friend of mine told me about another reduction in his newsroom and lamented the future of newspapers—and now he held little hope of it moving to the web either.
I wish it were that simple. I won’t go into details, but I have plenty of faith, largely due to the talent we had in our own office.
While Gary Moore, John and I patrolled for hard news, Kathy Michaels proved that there’s a place for business news and depth of coverage. Business is the toughest beat because the good stories don’t walk in the door, but she fought for it and her stories on real estate and business issues were often top reads. If you didn’t get a chance, I invite you to look over some of her columns. She is a crafty wordsmith, one of the best, and I hope she continues with it.
Chris Stanford is a master with his camera and no doubt he will soon find another good home for it, though the web was the best showcase for the breadth of his work. He did a great job in sports, and Pieter Uni filled in for him admirably.
Stories by Joe Fries were invariably the most read. He proved that hard news can get us by, but by digging in places few others know about and never letting a story die on Day One, you can provide insight and depth and yes, readers do crave that.
I was blessed with a great team and that includes former employees Holly Miyasaki, Gary Moore, Adrian Nieoczym and Mark Stone. I only wish we were able to connect with more readers who could have seen the full breadth of what we offered.
Shaun Pilfold and Rob Montgomery were great as owners. They largely stayed out of the newsroom, backed me when they needed to and pushed me when they had to. They included me in strategy, business, technology and philosophy. I learned so much it’s frightening what I didn’t know coming in.
And here’s where I point out my own lie. Today is without doubt the lowlight of my days at Kelowna.com. The reporters have gone, the newsroom is bare and I move on to find another adventure.
250-470-4102Marshall Jones: The Kelowna.com adventure comes to an end