UPDATE 05/15/17: As most of you have heard, my union did us a solid and successfully negotiated a new contract that included several jobs being saved, including mine. I’m thankful to be back at work and have been so appreciative of the support that’s poured in over the last two months, both from friends and strangers. I’ve since returned to work and am trying to leave the rough times in the past. But the sentiment behind this letter still stands.
PREVIOUSLY 03/27/17: The following post was written on March 23 as a way to mentally prepare myself for what I knew would be a difficult day. Then I spent the weekend crying, laughing, editing and trying to cut my word count (couldn’t do it, no surprise) and it’s been incredibly therapeutic.
This isn’t an invite to a pity party, just some nice things I want to share about a newsroom I fell in love with. Enjoy. (5:00 MIN. READ)
If you’re reading this, it means I’ve been laid off from my job – more specifically, my dream job as a reporter with The Province (and Vancouver Sun). Sigh.
For the last month, my brain’s been wracked by equal parts disbelief, uneasy hope I might survive the cuts, and just plain old sadness. My diet’s mostly consisted of consolation beers and way too much sugar.
On Friday, after almost five years of reporting on Vancouver and British Columbia for Postmedia, I was officially laid off, alongside several other respected, talented colleagues. April 7 is our last day. I guess it’s almost a rite of passage in journalism.
The tsunami wave of support that we’ve received has been incredibly overwhelming and I don’t even know how to say thank you to the countless people – many of which were total strangers – who’ve shared a kind word. But thank you.
Hey! There’s me on the left next to one of my best friends, Tyler Orton, scrumming with Marcie Moriarty of the SPCA in June 2013. (RIC ERNST/PNG)
There’s many reasons to be sad – and most of them are obvious because, duh, journalism – but there’s a large part of me that is sad because this isn’t how I imagined leaving The Province. This newsroom was it for me. I thought I’d have the chance to tell more stories and notch more bylines under the Province masthead before moving on.
The Province was and still is the scrappy little tabloid that could, which makes it the perfect home for a scrappy little reporter like me. This paper is the underdog; we punch well above our weight class. (That’s two too many clichés in one line. I’m sorry.)
We are a strange and rowdy bunch: often inappropriate, consistently hilarious. This is a fascinating, amazing collection of humans who have become my tribe, day in and day out. These are folks who happily took me under their wing and taught me to fly, even if my own wings weren’t quite strong enough yet.
Case in point: who else would let the youngest temp in the newsroom work city desk and assign about a dozen seasoned reporters? For an entire month? That’s like letting the newest patient run the asylum.
Somehow no one was fired, no one was sued, and the paper still made it to print with no empty holes or filler text. Phew. (And then they asked me to do it on a regular basis!)
In 2012, I was The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund reporter. The campaign has been running since 1918. (MARK VAN MANEN / PNG)
I was invited to sit in on news meetings and not just that, they laughed when I cracked jokes and they didn’t fire me when I sassed senior editors. They liked me! So much that they kept me for almost five years after I first stepped foot into 200 Granville St. as a summer intern.
Last year’s merger with the Vancouver Sun, which was met with trepidation on my part, also introduced me to new colleagues I now call my friends. For another two weeks, I’ll be lucky enough to work with an amazing combined team, one that will likely never again be assembled in the same newsroom, with all the same pieces.
Thank you to every mentor I’ve ever had. When I received my layoff notice on Friday, I thought of each editor and instructor that took a chance on me, put in a good word, served as a reference, and then I felt my heart sank, as if I’d let them down somehow. I always want to make you proud.
I am eternally grateful that Shannon Miller and Ros Guggi told me, “We like you but you just don’t have enough daily experience; get some and then come back” at my first interview in 2010 when I was still a student. That lit a fire in me and it’s what earned me that second, more successful interview.
I’m grateful to every editor I’ve ever served under in the newsroom. But particularly David Carrigg who, even when I approached his desk once near tears over some trivial matter, never shied away as city editor but always offered a comforting word of advice and self-deprecating humour (which I can relate to).
I’m grateful to Wayne Moriarty, Fabian Dawson, and Paul Chapman, who have always supported, protected, and championed our rag-tag bunch of journalists. Thank you for making The Province such a wonderful name to stand behind each and every day.
Here in this photo, we see Stephanie Ip, a not-so-rich Asian girl, interviewing Chelsea from the 2014 locally filmed reality series Ultra Rich Asian Girls. (ARLEN REDEKOP / PNG)
A hearty Wayne’s World “We’re not worthy!” to talented colleagues and desk mates who became my friends and cheerleaders and who I’m convinced are some of the most interesting people in the world. Thank you for letting me into your lives and allowing me to hold your babies and attend your weddings.
Of course, a shoutout to the Province intern class of 2012. Jeff is now a Wolf of Wall Street, Justin’s the best at ranking anything and everything, and Larissa will always be the best case scenario of what happens when you tweet at a stranger.
These were people who saw potential in me and fostered it, then pushed me to pursue it myself. I was challenged by my editors, my colleagues, competing media outlets, and our loyal subscribers. I learned to stand up for myself, and in turn, stand up for our readers and the stories that matter.
Here’s sweet baby face intern Steph from 2012.
That’s the part I hope you’ll remember: JOURNALISM MATTERS. Yes, many of us lost our dream jobs last week but I know this isn’t about me. In the end, it’s our readers and journalism that suffer. I’m just lucky I had the honour of writing these stories for you – both the serious and the absurd – here at The Province and then the Vancouver Sun for as long as I did.
As for what’s next, I’ll finish out my two weeks here and then take a bit of a vacation somewhere warm to detox these unemployment beers, get some much-needed sun, and maybe stop slouching now that the weight of impending layoffs is off my shoulders.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a farewell (for now) to The Province but hopefully not journalism. My scrappy little newsie heart still loves talking to strangers, asking all sorts of questions, sharing important stories, and delivering the news of the day.
If that sounds like someone your newsroom might want to take on, send me your news tips.
You can contact Stephanie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @stephanie_ip.
Here’s our Province newsroom just before the Great Merger of 2016.