Extra! Extra! Nothing to read here.

Saw this on Facebook a while ago… image Then heard this morning that it’s done. Finished. Gone. No ceremony. No reminiscing about the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial’s hundred-year history in the Cowichan Valley. No celebrating its writers, editors, photographers, staff, and salespeople who many citizens came to know through their storytelling and advertising. No roasting those same people so we can poke gentle fun at their idiosyncrasies.

My writing grew up in the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial. Its demise is like watching your high school get torn down. With the physical structure is gone, memories stay but pride fades if you can’t walk the halls.

Cowichan Leader office ca 1910. From Cowichan Valley Museum Archives.

Cowichan Leader office ca 1910. From Cowichan Valley Museum Archives.

I had the privilege of writing for five minutes in the relative history of the paper, and I feel a loss. I can’t imagine how the rest feel, the staff who I worked with and who have been there since (what feels like) the beginning of time, like sports writer Don Bodger, who made heroes out of our local athletes; features writer Peter Rusland, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of this valley; photographer Andrew Leong, whose images last in our memories long after the paper they were printed on is scrumpled into the fire; and last and the opposite of least, editor John McKinley, who orchestrated every issue with a calm that made the monumental twice-weekly task look easy.

Black Press is entitled to make choices about how to run their business, but they must understand that closing a local rag that was a main source of information for this community for over a century—a century!—is dishonourable to do so without fanfare. This is a sad ending to a long, colourful, and essential Cowichan Valley story; sadder still that it passes with no wake.

CNL Cartoonist Rob Kernachan's farewell cartoon.

CNL Cartoonist Rob Kernachan‘s farewell cartoon.

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14 comments

  1. Good grief. Tell me it ain’t so? Sitting down to the local paper was one of those stolen moment treats following a busy week. We read them cover to cover. In this house, the NewsLeader will be very sorely missed.

  2. Maeve, very well said. So many of us have so many memories of the News Leader.

    While I was a CVRD Director 1993-2002 I got more than my share of ink. Former CVRD Chair and long time CVRD Director Joe Allan dubbed it the ‘Hughes News Leader’

    I will always remember former editor Richard Wright and Brian LePine. In their day they still had enough funding to employ 3 or 4 news reporters plus Don Bodger in sports.

    Peter (from the Leader) Rusland was one of the last news reporters left standing when the strike to stave off a two tier wage system commenced.

    Don Bodger’s contribution to the sporting community will be missed. His departure leaves a very deep ‘Black Hole.’

    John McKinley shouldered the editorial responsibilities and now he too is now out of a job.

    Perhaps he will gain employment again at another Black Paper. Possibly even the Cowichan Citizen.

    Don Maroc and Patrick Hrushowy used to duel it out on the editorial pages with their columns ‘News from the Left-Maroc’ and ‘News from the Right’ Hrushowy.

    There was scrutiny over our elected politicians and we were all better off for it.

    In years pat the Citizen and Leader really competed for news and advertisers even though they were owned by out of town corporate owners who shipped advertising profits out of town.

    Matt Price has suggested a worker owned co-op paper. It has worked well for Harmac and CHEK-TV both faltering corporations now taken over and successfully being operated by the employee/owners.

    Let’s hope that the brave strikers who dared to stand up to that skinflint David Black can actually take over the remains of the News Leader/Pictorial, or start a new one.

    One way or another it would be of great benefit to the community to have a locally owned and operated newspaper that we can all be proud of.

  3. I can’t really believe this is so. Since 1969 when I first visited the Cowichan Valley, the Pictorial ,when delivered, was a time when the family sat around and read transcripts from the paper, as well as the advertising. I remember reading the Pictorial at the little coffee station at Safeway when Mrs Mann looked after the bakery. I can still see her to this day with her hair net on. Such a long time ago. I always have looked forward to Wednesday and Friday when the local papers are delivered. When your time is limited, this opens your world to the goings on in our community. Our fabulous community I must say. A very sad day indeed. Thinking of all the staff today.

  4. What a terrible ending to this story. Having worked back in the 1980s with Don Bodger, Peter Rusland, and Andrew Leong, I know what dedicated and hard-working reporters they are. It was that dedication that gave life to the News Leader and Pictorial. Too bad the owner couldn’t appreciate that. Sure, newspapers are experiencing tough times, but why does the strategy always have to be a race to the bottom? A newspaper like the News Leader is more than a just a business. It’s a community institution, part of the social fabric. And make no mistake — gaining the community’s trust was always part of the business proposition. Closing it down after more than a century is a betrayal of that trust. It’s like shutting down city hall or the hospital. Yet it’s been allowed to die with hardly a whimper. Good luck to my old friends.

  5. I was in on the earliest days of the Valley News, then the fledgling wild, crazy, magnificently exhilarating infancy and growth of the Cowichan News … through the spirited years of rivalry with the Leader, and then for the first year of the merged News Leader in the mid-1980s. This is very sad news, but with the current state of print journalism, … well, it’s still crappy. To all those who ever honourably toiled for the Leader and News, a job well done. To Black Press for their usual class …. have a nice day.

    1. Graeme, I have often wondered where you are and where you have been. Fond memories of the early Cowichan News days, and of course CKAY.

      It speaks volumes that the Cowichan media is far less than in it used to be in the 70-to late 90’s.

      Big thanks to Maeve for kicking this off!

  6. Very very sad…if one paper had to go how come it couldnt have been the other one that is not so deep in history…changing and sad times

  7. I’m deeply saddened by the closure of the NewsLeader. I grew up with the voice of this paper shaping how I saw the citizens of the valley; celebrating their successes, keeping hot topics on people’s tongues and my personal favourite…Don Bodger advocating for excellence in youth sports.

    To the entire team: your voice, messages, experiences and stories will be missed by our community. Having more than one paper in the valley gave a difference of opinion that is needed in a democratic society. We will be the lesser for losing it.

    I look forward to saying hello to each of you as we pass on the street’s of Duncan, and hope to read your stories or see your photography through another medium soon.

    Thank you Maeve for your blog…

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