The Daily Colonist

Mourning the last Colonist

A "WAKE" FOR THE DEATH OF THE DAILY COLONIST was held in the newsroom after the last edition that Sunday night, and then-news editor Dave Brown sent along this picture of the occasion. Surrounding a portrait of the Colonist founder, Amor de Cosmos, some members of the staff wore black armbands. Back row, left to right: librarian Corrine Wong; Mary Armstead (classified ads); John T. Jones (newsdesk); Jim Gibson (columnist); sports editor Jim Reid; business editor George Gibson; news editor Dave Brown; Frank Sullivan (newsdesk); reporter Don Collins. Front row, left to right: Paul Bennett (features desk); John Hogbin (newsdesk); editorial clerk Chuck O'Dell. Hogbin remembers that "afterwards we all went to Amor's grave at Ross Bay cemetery and drank to his health," while insults were hurled at Lord Thomson, whose newspaper organization owned the Colonist at the time.

Dave Brown recalls merger, news wars

Brown Dave joined the Colonist as a young reporter in 1955, and later
became it's long-time news editor. He retained that position
when the Colonist and the Times merged, and rose to become
managing editor of the Times Colonist, retiring in 1996. Dave
provided the picture above, and this reminiscence, part of an
e-mail he wrote Sept. 13, 2005:

The first product under the merged Times-Colonist logo appeared Tuesday morning, September 2.....Unfortunately timeline-wise (the Colonist launching predating the Times by 26 years), the Times got front billing, because, as the new joint publisher Colin McCullough explained, it sort of flowed better in cadence or something to have the one-syllable title come first.

At the merger, the Times retained the top two editorial positions for the joint paper: publisher and managing editor. The Colonist's Don Vipond retained his position as editorial-page editor, but lost his title as associate editor. Somehow I survived as news editor (happily) but held the title jointly with the Times' Jonathan Franklin, who moved up to a more undefined administrative position. I say happily for my part because I was doing what I enjoyed most, night-to-night newsdesk tasting, weighing and allocation of the news within the edition, and especially laying out the front page.

Although the Colonist always had the largest circulation of the two, there resided in some members of the Times a compensating snobbish certainty that it was the more professional product. The fact it never overtook the Colonist in readership must have rankled them no end.

The Colonist's gripe over lo the many years since Max Bell bought both papers in the '50s was that the publisher of the Times, from Stu Keate to McCullough, was always the vice-president of the two papers, thus relegating the Colonist publisher to the secondary position within the company. That tended to undercut our newsroom promotion as a competing paper at the journalistic level.

The newsroom wars were sincere and did wonders for reporters' and editors' initiative. We all delighted in beating the pants off the Times in a story, with either a scoop or a major shootdown, and went to great lengths to keep an exclusive from the gang down the hall. And they did the same.

The public's perception was likely, "What are you talking about? You're all under one roof." And that perception was rarely dented because few readers took both papers to make comparisons.

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This page started Sept. 14, 2005. Last updated April. 9, 2006