Frances Bula, Miro Cernetig, David Baines, Ian Mulgrew & Malcolm ParrySaturday, August 30, 2008
It was in August 1978 that I had my first real (I had others but this one counts for me) cover in Vancouver. It was most fun to work with Valerie Gibson who with a few nudges from then Vancouver Magazine editor, Malcolm Parry, pioneered gossip writing in our city. Gibson truly believed in the importance of what she did and she called the people she wrote about "my people". For a few years she would drag me to upper crust parties to photograph her people. "I like having you along because I don't have to tell you whom to photograph. You know." And of course Malcolm Parry (and a host of imitators) now do double-duty as gossipers and photographers. I would state that Parry is a cut above the others in stature, both figuratively and literally. It was Parry and art director Rick Staehling that really helped me launch my career as a magazine photographer. While I may have had covers in international publications I will never forget this one which is closest to my heart. And it was not only Parry, Sean Rossiter, Vancouver Magazine political and architecture writer Sean Rossiter also nurtured my interest in civic affairs.
But coincidentally it is this cover, shot so many years ago this month, that has been in my mind as I notice how I react to magazines, internationally, nationally and locally. More than anything I have been noticing how my circle of friends (going the way of entropy) has lost interest in discussions with me on local media.
None seemed to be interested in trying to figure out why Vancouver Sun political columnist, Frances Bula, bolted to Vancouver Magazine. Is there a way that magazine could possibly pay her and give her all the social services she got as a Sun writer? Will she be able to do her investigative reporting with those much longer magazine lead times?
I have often wondered why one of my favourite Vancouver Sun columnists, Ian Mulgrew is wasted (my opinion) reporting on crime when he would do a better job in reporting about our true criminals, the politicians. In the same way David Baines's untouchable sense of ethics would also be excitingly used in politics. The latter example would be what CBC movie reviewer Rick Staehling would call cross casting.
Few of my friends noticed the Vancouver Sun Miro Cernetic column a few months back where he stated (most accurately) that Premier Gordon Campbell was our de facto Mayor.
Years back Malcolm Parry often ran incisive articles on how things were at the local newspapers. I enjoyed them. I even remember Sun writer, Rick Ouston somehow writing some of those. I always admired Ouston's equally (like Baines) unimpeachable ethics and honesty.
I wonder these days if the people on the street even care who writes what in what column in whatever paper or magazine you might cite. Many will mention the ascendance of local blogs. Yet if you go to some of the mayor local blog aggregators the bulk of the blogs are extremely boring rehashing of stuff you can read by the local reporters of our Vancouver Sun, Province, Georgia Straight and the Courier. And these articles are infinitely better written. A great majority of the blogs are about popular music and food. Is this the stuff that makes our city the city it is? Perhaps. But isn't there more?
And as fewer and fewer of my friends have any interest in our city's civic affairs I wonder if there is something wrong with me.
If only I could go back in time and pinch Mac Parry (as he was then called) and bring him to 2008 (minus a digital camera) and tell him, "Start something that will tell me a bit more about the city we live in. And as you once said to me, "I don't want to see more perfect pictures of perfect houses without people in them. ""
I cite the above Vancouver Sun columnists and ex-columnists for a reason. In spite of the recent articles predicting the diminishing influence and the shaky financial status of the Vancouver Sun I believe that its forthcoming demise may be greatly exaggerated. If they could only find their way.