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Opinion: Lessons in leadership

editorial BD jan 2022
In the very first issue of Pique Newsmagazine, published Nov. 25, 1994, the paper's founders outlined three principles: “Keep in mind what Whistler is; constantly look at where Whistler is going; nurture a sense of place.”

In the very first issue of Pique Newsmagazine, published Nov. 25, 1994, there was no Opening Remarks column.

In its place was a photo of the upstart paper’s four founders—Bob and Kathy Barnett, Dave Rigler and Kevin Damaskie—and a few short introductory paragraphs.

The new paper would be guided by three principles, the authors wrote: “Keep in mind what Whistler is; constantly look at where Whistler is going; nurture a sense of place.”

They are principles we hold to this day.

The first Opening Remarks appeared the following week, penned by founding editor Bob Barnett.

In it, he probed potential consequences for unzoned land in the Whistler Valley, including the Emerald Forest, Parkhurst, and Creekside.

Barnett wrote more than 700 Opening Remarks entries in his time as editor, every week providing valuable contextual insight to the pressing topics of the day, before passing the torch to Clare Ogilvie in early 2011.

In her first Opening Remarks on Jan. 20, 2011, Clare ruminated on change, both at Pique and in the wider resort.

“[F]illing Bob’s shoes—well, that’s just not possible is it?” she wrote.

“And I can still hear Kathy’s voice if I listen—pushing for the best, challenging everyone to make the Pique relevant, but not at all costs. Rather with integrity and an understanding that we are all in this together.”

Again, the words still ring true.

For just under 11 years, Clare has been the strong and steadfast leader of our little newsroom, always with a cheery smile, never losing her cool.

Drawing on her vast experience as a journalist, she always had an answer to every difficult question; seemingly knew how to navigate any storm.

She picked us up when we were down, pushed us when we stalled out, and held us together when we were on the verge of falling apart.

She brought us baked goods, and scolded us for our (often off-the-rails) cursing.

She made us all better, and displayed all the qualities you could ever hope for in a leader. I’ve learned so much from her.

And now I’m sitting here, just the third editor in the history of Pique Newsmagazine, looking at two very big pairs of shoes to fill and finding myself at a rare loss for words.

Reminiscing about the past, parsing the present, and keeping one eye on the future.

But reading these entries, and countless others, in Pique’s archives grounds me.

For more than 25 years, Pique’s Opening Remarks page has been structured as a didactic essay—an educational piece of facts and information rather than a traditional hard, argumentative opinion.

I don’t intend to completely do away with that practice, but I also don’t plan to worship it.

While there will no doubt be some straightforward, informational entries—and my writing will always reflect the feedback of my colleagues and peers on Pique’s editorial team—I expect my opinionated output will be more eccentric than that of my predecessors.

Sometimes I’ll argue an opinion. Other times I will write from the heart. And sometimes I might even indulge myself, and get a little weird with it.

You may notice some other changes to Pique’s content, both in print and online, as I find my way in my new role—nothing radical or Earth-shattering, but rather putting an added emphasis on some of the things we do best: award-winning community reporting and longform features, engaging opinion pieces and cover art and, yes, a little bit of weirdness.

But despite my at times lighthearted nature, please don’t ever presume I take this responsibility lightly—I assure you it is quite the opposite. 

In my almost eight years in Whistler, I have covered seven elections and taken in hundreds of hours of council meetings.

I’ve conducted countless interviews with community members, and stumbled into the office on Wednesday for production day after a sleepless deadline Tuesday more times than I can remember.

I care deeply about the success of this town, and everyone in it—those who built a village on top of a garbage dump; who put their names forward to run in elections; who volunteer tirelessly in the background; who work on the frontlines in restaurants and hotels; and who only come for a season or two to shred.

The media landscape is changing, and Pique’s online presence is growing, which is why we also share stories from other Glacier Media outlets on our social media channels. 

But the No. 1 goal of our reporters—all of whom are passionate, talented, dedicated members of this community—is and has always been to report the local news that matters to you. That’s not going to change.

Pique is your source for local news. We want to reflect all the best qualities of Whistler, while also never being afraid to shine light on the bad.

My mind and my phone line are open—call me at the office, Monday to Friday (604-938-0202), and invite me to your community events. 

These are extraordinary, controversial and uncertain times, but I’ve poured enough of my energy into covering this town and its residents to know we’ll get through it just fine—by remembering what Whistler is, being mindful of where it’s going, and with an understanding that we’re all in this together.