This week, I want to take a short look at some dark times. They aren’t fun to go through at the time, but they do give you a helpful perspective, letting you know when things are good - and right now at the The Reminder, things are going quite well, thank you very much.
I can remember two times during my time working for this newspaper when the future seemed... murky. A couple of years ago, when we switched from publishing two issues a week to one, we didn’t really know what would come next. People came up to me at events and on the street, asking me if the paper was going to go under. I’ll be honest - I didn’t know if it would or wouldn’t back then.
Then last year, both our then-publisher and then-editor left the paper. It was not sudden or acrimonious and everyone involved was professional, but we were left with a day-to-day staff of three people in our office. We would have a new publisher we’d never worked with before. Speaking for myself, I would be the only full-time writer. Those same questions came up again. There have been times when I didn’t know how, or if, this was going to work. There were more than a few times that nervous breakdowns seemed right around the corner.
That being said, I’m quite pleased to tell you that, just about eight months into our newest phase, things have worked out fine. In fact, at a time when small newspapers around Canada are being shuttered or combined with other publications, we’re making a profit, our readership is going up and we’ve earned recognition.
Last week, we heard that The Reminder won six awards in the recent Manitoba Community Newspapers Association (MCNA) Better Newspaper Awards. For us, this, along with the similar awards held by the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association (SWNA), are our Oscars - and this spring, instead of being the ship Titanic and sinking, we were the movie.
Between those two awards, we won nine awards in total for our work in 2018. We ended up on podiums 13 times. No other paper in western Canada did better than us.
Am I proud? You bet, but I’m most proud of the people behind the scenes whose work goes into making this paper what it is.
Our new publisher, Nancy Johnson, brings new ideas and new energy into the fold - a high-five when it’s earned, along with a kick in the rear if needed. Our editing duties have come down to a three-headed-monster of the Thompson Citizen’s Ian Graham, Christopher L. Istace, formerly of the Westman Journal and myself. Ian and Chris are basically the angels on our shoulder, the people who pull me aside and ask, “Hey… are you sure you want to do that?” Their expertise has been vital.
Our layout person, Tracey Trydal, is one of the biggest unsung heroes behind this whole project. Her name and face don’t show up anywhere in these pages, but her touch can be found in every single letter and line you’re reading right now.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t shout out the work of former publisher Valerie Durnin and our former editor Cynthia Bigrigg, both of whom worked long hours to pump out a quality product every week during their time here.
And last but definitely not least, our sales lead Sharon Kirkup and our ad coordinator/office manager/jill-of-all-trades Shannon Thompson have been instrumental throughout their time here. I shudder to think where we’d be as a business without each of these people firing on all cylinders.
None of this happens without Flin Flonners supporting local business. Aside from us being locally based and benefitting from you spending your hard-earned change on our paper each week, we make a good chunk of our budget from advertising from businesses based in our area, too. These businesses know that buying ad space in this paper makes sense, in both supporting their business and ours - as far as “bang for buck” goes, it’s a win-win proposition.
It’s easy to forget, in a time where online shopping can get you whatever you want, that there are people, the same ones you see buying groceries and taking the kids to soccer practice, the same ones you see out camping or at hockey games, whose entire livelihoods depend on you spending your money with them.
Flin Flon has a ton of entrepreneurs and operators who’d be pleased to have your business. It’s vital that we try everything we can to help our friends and neighbours get a leg up. We all benefit from that.
The Reminder is not going away anytime soon - not if I or any of our hard-working people have anything to say about it, and especially not if you have something to say about it.
Support our local businesses and our local businesses will support you.