In 2006, in a small mining town in northern British Columbia, Canada, I made my very first venture into the world of Journalism. I didn’t know it, but my first day on the job for Tumbler Ridge News, I would be sent with a camera, pen, and notepad to the elementary school to interview a children’s book Author. Now, normally this wouldn’t be daunting to a Journalist who has vast experience in the area of conducting an interview, but that’s not what I was hired for. I was supposed to be the Receptionist and that’s what I was emotionally prepared for when I walked into the office that day. My Editor had other plans…
I am going to give you a little bit of a background before I proceed with this entry:
It is no secret among the towns folk of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia that Loraine Funk, Editor and owner of Tumbler Ridge News was a bit of a disagreeable and sometimes cantankerous personality with her staff. Well actually, she was that way with everyone to be perfectly frank. This earned her such terms of endearment as ‘The Dragon Lady’ in her tower (the tallest building in town – only 2 floors up). But at the time, I was desperate to be working for added income for my family to get through Christmas, and so, I had to push through this image of the newspaper tyrant so that I could focus on my job. Indeed, the entire time I was employed with Tumbler Ridge News, Loraine was a tough cookie. She certainly did live up to her image on more than one occasion with me, but I would remind myself that I needed the money and that would get me through it. So, you can imagine that when I walked into this work environment that first day, I was braced for a reenactment from ‘The Devil Wears Prada‘ with me being the naive Anne Hathaway character and Loraine being the cool and dismissive Editor-in-Chief, ‘Miranda’. (Side note: if you haven’t seen The Devil Wears Prada, watch the clip below. Do it. Now. Then go back to reading this entry) ‘No matter,’ I told myself, ‘I’ve got this.’
Being in this new work environment only ten minutes in, my assessment of the situation was right bang on: Loraine appeared very distracted and completely annoyed that I was interrupting her ‘chi’ (she was editing content at the time of my arrival – I would soon learn that she would be in the office as early as 5:00 am and wouldn’t leave until well into the night). ‘Hi Loraine, what would you like me to do first?’ I asked. Then, without a word, she stood up, unplugged a (foreign to me) Nikon camera from it’s charging process and handed it to me. Then she walked around a corner in the office and seemed to disappear for a moment or two leaving me standing in the reception area completely dumbfounded. ‘This is it,’ I thought, ‘this is where she eats me alive.’ Seconds later, she reappeared with a pen and notepad, handed them to me, and proceeded to walk back to her desk and continue editing her piece. Have you ever sat in complete silence with a complete stranger and prayed that something, or somebody would break the silence? That was me, right then, in that most uncomfortable 2 minutes of my life. Was I supposed to take the images off the camera for her? Or was I supposed to sit at her desk and take notes?
‘Okayyyyyyyyyyy…….’ I muttered in my head. Clearly, this woman was not only a tyrant, she was silent ninja who could make you feel like a complete imbecile in a matter of minutes. Scrounging up the courage, I finally asked, ‘Um, Loraine? What do you need me to do with these?’ She spun around in her chair as though there was a fire in the building and stared at me like I was the arsonist who started it. ‘You’re going to go to the elementary school and interview the Author of course (like I should have known that was the plan)’. And with that, she spun back around and continued working. Suffice to say, I had to get it in my head right away that this woman was far too busy to spend the ten minutes it would have taken to explain to me this situation, or any situation. Lucky for me, I was a quick study and it was clear that I was to learn, absorb, and catch on immediately, or there would be no job for me to come back to the next day.
I did it. I went to the elementary school, fumbling through the front reception, wondering where I was supposed to be at that exact moment. ‘Oh, you are here to interview the Author,’ said the Principal walking towards me with her hand outstretched. Finally! Someone who knew something of what I was supposed to be doing and with a smile on their face! ‘Uh, yes! Yes, I am!’ I smiled, shaking her hand. ‘Yes, Loraine told me you would be taking Lisa’s place now. She told me to expect you today.’ Clearly, Lisa was the previous Reporter for the newspaper and I was her replacement. It didn’t take rocket science to figure out why…
I fumbled through it. I sat through the presentation in the schools’ gymnasium while the childrens’ book Author, Eric Wilson, spoke to the students, all the while thinking, ‘Is this it? I am actually getting paid for this?’ To be honest, this was a welcome relief knowing that I wouldn’t be stuck in the office in what I was certain would be uncomfortable silence the whole day. ‘I can get used to this,’ I remember thinking. Then, just as the presentation was ending and the children were prompted to return to their classrooms, I was reminded of my duty. Instinctively, I stood up and walked over to the gentleman and introduced myself, ‘Hello Eric, my name is Candice Anne Marshall and I am with Tumbler Ridge News.’
And there you have it, my first ever interview as a Journalist was with a childrens’ book Author. You can see this first written piece from the Tumbler Ridge News archives here. (note: I suspect that all articles I wrote were later archived with little or no edits/functional changes. Hopefully, you all can make it through the spelling/grammar errors that happen as a result of moving content from one platform to another).
This was the pivotal moment in my life where I went from a stay-at-home-mom (albeit a graphic design graduate) to a woman on the brink of a career path that I never imagined in my wildest dreams would bring me here today, delivering you this ‘article’. I worked for Loraine Funk for about year before I was snapped up by the regional newspaper (Peace Country Spotlight) that covered all of the North Peace Region of British Columbia, Canada. I covered everything from court reporting (now that was a huge learning curve!) to council minutes with the town hall. I also covered stories on the local fire department, sports, events, music festivals, and much more. I learned as I went, and I learned fast. Loraine impressed upon me the importance of ‘doing it right the first time’ (editing and writing my own articles) so that I would be able to meet the papers weekly tight deadlines. Bear in mind, for this newspaper and the regional, I was their sole Journalist. The town of Tumbler Ridge depended on me, for the most part, to get the scoop and it meant intense dedication 24/7 to this new vocation. Mistakes happened, but fewer and further between when I had the pressure of Loraine breathing down my neck to get the stories in on time. But it never failed, I was always on point and did my job and soon, her frown turned upside-down. I remember the day she asked me to come into her office, this was a couple months before I left to work for the regional newspaper, and she said, ‘I am so proud of you. You picked this up quickly. Just remember your first day….’ If you know this woman, you would know that even a smile from her was breaking the mold, but a compliment? That was cause for celebration.
Two months later, after being sought out by the regional newspaper, I submitted my resignation and advised her I was going to work for the competitor. She did appear upset when I delivered this particular ‘news’, but without blinking an eye, she then said, ‘Well, you know what you have to do now. Go and prepare an ad for a new journalist for my paper.’ I nodded my head and promptly stood up to shake her hand, ‘Loraine, I know it was a huge learning curve for me and I appreciate your guidance and input along the way. It was tough sometimes, and you are a tough lady, but I appreciate the opportunity you gave me to do something I never imagined possible. You gave me my freedom to speak, write, and pioneer my own path in this industry.’ She glanced over at me with the same cool, nonchalant look I received on that first day in October 2005, then turned around and went right back to her editing. Not a word was spoken, but I understood.
Two weeks later, ‘the new girl’ arrived. I directed her to Loraines’ office, and just as I was closing the door, I saw her turn around, give the same cool stare to this young lady as she stood up, walked over, and unplugged the camera from it’s charger. I shut the door, walked down the hall, and smiled. I walked in with the intention of making money for my family, but I was leaving with something much more precious: a friend. x
Candice Anne Marshall
April 5th, 2018
It has almost been a year since you have passed away and I want you to know that you are and will always be one of the most important teachers in my life. You helped me to trust my own intuition, taught me how to get ‘the facts’ in every situation, and the most important gifts of all: self-empowerment and the willingness to ‘just do it!’. From woman to woman, this will always mean so much to my spirit. I thank you for being a teacher (albeit brief) in my life, and I tip my hat to you even to this day. I hope you’re giving them hell in heaven Loraine, because a few of them need your spirit!
Your apt Pupil,
Candice Anne Marshall
‘Dear Loraine’ in memory of Loraine Funk who passed May 2017. *A beautiful feature posted by my friend and peer Trent Earnst was written only a month prior to her passing and I will share it with you here.