The decision has now been made, thankfully, that the print edition of The CJN will continue.
There will be significant changes in the staffing of the paper, however. So, with this, my last column as editor, I wish to introduce readers to the four departments at the paper where the exhilarating work of The CJN came together on a weekly basis.
I don’t intend to write about or identify each person whose labour, literally, gave birth to a new weekly edition. Space does not permit me to do so in a manner fitting the appreciation each deserves. Their names appear on page 2. It is my hope that readers have stopped occasionally on that page to take note of the people who actually work at The CJN.
As most of us know from our own experiences, friends prove themselves in difficult times. In the newspaper world – especially the world of a weekly newspaper serving the Jewish community – difficult times come in many different ways and often: short deadlines, truncated holiday-related production schedules, angry readers, crusading readers, threatening readers, missing copy, errors in copy, misplaced ads, miss-sized ads, power outages, computer server shutdowns and numerous other such inconvenient mini-crises. As a result, most of us in the four departments are more than colleagues. We are also friends.
The editorial department provides content to the paper. Our editors, reporters, freelance writers, columnists, copy editors and proofreaders are uniquely talented, skilled individuals out of whose cumulatively rich vein of creativity and resourcefulness we mined the material for the paper each week.
Stories, features, columns and opinions were fashioned into readable form by countless editorial decisions each day. To be sure, the final form was not always perfect. We did not always get it right. But we always owned up to mistakes.
Above all and always, the content of the paper, in all its various forms, had one single purpose: to advance the mission of paper, namely, “to serve the Jewish People, in Canada, in Israel and in all its habitations.”
All the words and all the photos that the editorial department assembled for each new edition of the paper were masterfully and diligently laid out on the pages – electronically today – by the artists and layout specialists of our production department. Borders, lines and spacing were always true. Colours in photos were carefully corrected. The front page was always an esthetic balance of symmetry, sparkle and content.
Brian Stoneman, our composing room manager, a rock of reliability, ensured that each page was better than the previous one. Through illness and inclement weather, he was as steadfast as Mount Everest.
But there would be no print pages at all, were it not for the sales department.
Through the sheer hard work and persistence of our sales representatives, the paper earned most of the income that was needed, for example, to buy the newsprint that became the pages of the paper. Each an ambassador for the paper, sales reps are indispensable in fostering the goodwill by which The CJN is known among our advertisers. Vera Gillman, the manager of the sales staff, was the rudder steering sales and marketing suggestions into ideas, ideas into plans and plans into successes.
The smooth running of these departments, of course, required the expertise of the fourth department: the office and business department. Our controller, Carol Jamieson, the avatar of dependability and dedication, led the team that did the “paperwork,” from sending out notices, enrolling subscribers, paying bills, dispensing salaries, maintaining office equipment to preparing balance sheets.
At the head of the entire operations of The CJN has been the general manager, chief operating officer Gary Laforet. Like Huckleberry Finn, he has twinkling mischief in his eyes but sharp-witted savvy in his mind. His experience and knowledge of the newspaper industry are little rivalled, if at all, in Canada. And if it is true that the editorial department gave the paper its content, it is equally true that Gary gave the paper its life. Through economic recessions and downturns, he always found an elegantly meaningful way to make the paper work. Until the advent of the digital tsunami.
Thankfully, the board of directors has rescued the print CJN from drowning in those digital depths.
It has been a great privilege, honour and blessing to be the editor of The CJN.
But now the time has come to say thank you to all of the men and women with whom I have worked these past 19 years, colleagues no more, friends, I hope, forever.
Thank you, all.