It was just about 10 years ago today when I was in the throes of a slight panic attack.
You’d have thought I was about to torpedo down a mountain slope with millions of eyes on my every move, in a bid to reach the pinnacle of athletic glory — an Olympic medal.
But, alas, I’m no Alexa Loo. (See page 17)
No, I was, as I am now, sitting in front of a computer trying to put out a paper. Okay, so no biggie, but this was no ordinary paper. In a fit of madness, our publisher at the time came up with the hairbrained idea of us producing a daily newspaper every day (of course, that’s what daily means, but just want to stress the point) of the 2010 Winter Olympics. That’s 17 days, by the way.
We would be doing this, according our possessed publisher, while still producing our regular paper, which at the time we published twice a week.
How exactly this was all going to work was beyond me — except it wasn’t because I was the one who was supposed to figure it out, at least the editorial part of it. The ads were pre-sold and our then-graphic artists would design the look.
My job was to not just think about what we’d cover, but figure out a schedule for when reporters, photographers and those helping with layout would be on the beat, when they’d do layout, when they’d file and when the pages would go to press. It was somewhat mind boggling to be on the ground floor doing this kind of planning.
And, get this, no new staff — not even freelancers. This was all going to happen after we finished our regular shifts. No one was obliged to work, but if they did, they’d only be paid with time in lieu. Well, let me tell you about the, not just grumbling, but full-on doomsday predictions.
But a funny thing happened on the way...a buzz took hold. Was it the sight of Rick Hansen rolling into Minoru Park, torch in hand? Was it the first gold medal win for Canada by Alexandre Bilodeau in moguls? Or was it just that we’d all drunk the Kool-Aid? I’m not sure, but clearly some kind of magic was wending its way through our office, and across Canada.
Just as the abundance of criticism that started with coverage of the Games seemed to melt away (like the snow at Cypress), staff who were adamant they wanted no part of our Olympic Daily were asking for shifts. By then, however, I had none to give them. Everyone had caught the bug.
I don’t mean to gloss over some of the very justifiable criticism of the Olympics. Affordability, displacement and the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s iron grip on coverage are concerning for sure. But somehow, for many of us, a joyful inspiration also could not be denied.
On the final day, when the sporting events were over and we had put our last issue to bed, my partner came to pick me up from the office — with a bottle of champagne.
I don’t profess to having scored a Sidney Crosby-calibre goal, but I was proud nevertheless. Proud to have been a part of something bigger, something exhilarating, something that brought us together to celebrate the best in us all.
...okay, not such a hairbrained idea.