Perky Pundit: Saying goodbye to a beloved community institution

Welcome to my last column in the last issue of the august journal you hold in your hands.

I have anticipated this day ever since Glacier Media, the group that owned The Question, acquired Pique Newsmagazine. After years of keeping two papers going, the company finally decided late last year that a town this size doesn’t need two newspapers.

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The Question has been a fixture in the community for more than 40 years, as long as the resort has been around. It documented a growing community with its mix of news, sports and opinion. It showed Whistler itself reflecting its values, turning the spotlight on the negative, celebrating the community’s successes and creating some great reporters, editors, designers, salespeople and publishers along the way. The Question was a true community paper.

The paper was passionate about supporting Whistler and Pemberton. A non-profit group could always get a good deal on an ad and usually cajole a little editorial space to support their event. And more often than not, Question staff would appear at community events with the paper’s pop-up tent, nifty giveaways and an attitude that typified the best of Whistler. The paper also gave local writers work, hosting dozens of columnists over the years. I am honoured to have been one of them for the past seven years. That said, I will miss the paper more than my column.

For many kids in Pemberton, delivering The Question door-to-door was a first job. Although the paper appeared on my door on a Thursday, the same publication day as Pique, I usually went through the paper on Saturday morning in bed, coffee in hand, browsing through the flyers. While many people had a problem with the numerous flyers crammed into the centre of their newspaper, I was not one. Reading the Canadian Tire flyer getting to say “Now that’s different!” was the highlight of my week. (My thrill threshold has always been somewhat low.)

From the Question grew other publications. There was The Answer, a groovy periodical that appeared on, no joke, April 1, 1977.

The 12-page tabloid had the distinction of being hand-lettered by Charlie Doyle, Robin Blechman and Tim Smith — that’s hand-lettered like a comic book — all of it. In November 1994 another newspaper, or rather newsmagazine, appeared in the form of Pique Newsmagazine, a fiercely independent publication founded by former Question employees Bob and Kathy Barnett, along with Kevin Damaskie and David Rigler.

The Question rose to the competition and ensured that Whistler had a vibrant media. Having two papers offering diverse points of view, varying stories and different editorial stances ensured that each did well in this unique market.

Saying goodbye to The Question is hard. I had felt that this year would be the last for The Perky Pundit, but I thought I’d say goodbye on my terms, leaving this space to be filled by someone younger and hipper. That would have been bittersweet. This ending is just sad in an end of an era kind of way. So instead of saying goodbye, I am going to say thank you.

First off, I’d like to express my gratitude to Alyssa Noel. I always appreciated her light touch with the red pen, open communication style and professionalism. She will undoubtedly shine in her new role as Pique’s A&E editor.

Thank you to publisher Sarah Strother for keeping the Question’s doors open for likely longer than it made financial sense and for ensuring that permanent staff all have jobs at Pique. And a special thank you to former Question publisher Stephanie Matches for deciding I had a worldview worth sharing.

But the people I am most grateful for are the readers. Thank you to those of you who wrote, called or stopped me in the grocery store to talk about what I had written that week, sharing your stories and offering inspiration.

Thank you, it’s been a great run.

© Copyright Whistler Question

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