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Opinion: Beyond what you see in ink and paper

2015 Ma Murrays
Clare Ogilvie, far right, with the rest of the Pique team at the 2015 BC and Yukon Community Newspaper Awards. Ogilvie is leaving the editor’s chair this week after nearly 11 years at Pique.

This Thursday marks the final issue of Pique with editor Clare Ogilvie’s name on the masthead, after nearly 11 years of putting her distinct stamp on Whistler’s weekly newsmagazine. I am fortunate enough to have called Clare my editor for nine of those years, and as Pique’s longest-tenured reporter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least try to put into words what she has meant to me, personally.  

For Whistlerites who only recognize Clare from the pages of Pique, you probably know her as an erudite writer unafraid of tackling the big issues, an inexhaustible editor who has helped transform Pique into a small-town paper with big-city ambitions, and a walking database of institutional and local knowledge that is impossible to replicate. If something is going on or even about to go on in this town, there’s a good chance Clare knows about it, and her time as a prolific city and crime reporter for The Province has lent her a deep well of experience I know we will continue to draw on even after she leaves the editor’s chair. 

But Clare’s true impact goes beyond what you see in ink and paper. 

I still remember walking into Pique’s Function Junction office one sunny morning in the fall of 2013, my first day on the job after spending the past year and a half at the now shuttered Whistler Question. Coming over as part of the deal that saw Question parent company Glacier Media purchase Pique from founding editor Bob Barnett, to say I had my worries about the new role would be a vast understatement. It seems funny in hindsight, but I had major doubts about placing my professional fate in the hands of an editor I had up until that point only known as a bitter rival. 

So there I am seated across from Clare, someone I’d never met but whose reputation I was well aware of, preparing to tell her I was not going to take on the municipal beat as originally planned. Rebuffing your new boss’ very first request is probably not the smartest tactic career-wise, and looking back, I think at least part of my refusal (beyond never wanting to sit through another four-hour council meeting ever again) was an attempt to see where Clare’s priorities lay. Of course, as I would soon learn, Clare’s priorities, as they always have, align with her team above all else. 

“Well, I want you to be happy here,” she responded. 

I was shocked. Accustomed to the journalism cliché of the callous, cold-hearted editor who cares more about filling a news hole than fulfilling their staff’s career aspirations, I was taken aback at the care and consideration Clare showed me that day, even at the cost of having to completely rejig the newsroom’s roles. 

That’s not to say she doesn’t care deeply about Pique and the stories we tell; anyone who knows Clare recognizes her dedication to this paper and its success is profound and all-encompassing, sometimes to a fault. (I’m not sure she even remembers what free time is at this point.) But like any great leader, she recognizes a happy and engaged staff is far more likely to produce compelling, quality content. 

But even that doesn’t quite do Clare justice. She doesn’t care about her team because of its knock-on effect for the paper, she cares because, quite simply, that is the essence of who she is. I know in her earlier life she was accepted to medical school, with aspirations of becoming a doctor like her father, and I have no doubt in my mind that she would have excelled at that job, too, because her nature is to nurture. In an industry known for chewing up and spitting out journalists at an alarming rate, Clare time and again has proven the exception to the rule.  

I am humbled to have gotten the chance to learn under her for the better part of a decade. I’m the first to admit there are times when I’ve made her job tougher than it needed to be, and although we don’t always see eye to eye, journalistically speaking, just like the first day I met her, she has always listened and afforded me the space and guidance to be who I am and who I want to become. 

I’m positive I wouldn’t be the reporter I am today without her mentorship, but even more important than that, I know I wouldn’t be the man I am today without her friendship, support and love. 

Now, go enjoy some time off, Clare. You’ve certainly earned it.

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