Pattie Desjardins started as a part-timer in the Hope Standard’s accounting department in 1991.
Twenty-nine years later and now the Standard’s ad representative and knower-of-all-things Hope, Desjardins was awarded a Silver Quill for her service to the community news industry. And in the weird times of COVID-19, rather than being celebrated at a gala evening her win was announced in an online ceremony.
“I started in a part-time role in the accounting department, and I had two small kids, and there was a job-share position open,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d keep it as a full-time career,” she laughed.
A lot has changed, in Hope and the newspaper industry, since Desjardins started at the paper. The town has shifted from being an industry-based town with logging trucks rolling down Wallace Street to becoming predominantly about services.
The making of the paper itself has changed as well. “We had these big huge computers at the back, they were way taller than me, with servers, three of them…And that was our classified system,” she remembers. A lot was done by hand – route lists and pay for carriers were done by hand, pages for the paper were cut and pasted and then driven down to Chilliwack. “And then they actually drove the pages to the press.”
The Standard used to be the Google of the community, she remembers, and back then the energy in the newsroom was exciting. “We were the go to people, we were the only source of news really,” she said, aside from a local radio station. The staff had to know everything, and be ready to answer even the most random queries.
She recalls getting a call from a Mr. Dediluke, an older man known for his support of the paper and for writing controversial letters to the editor, asking how to get his television remote to work. “So I kind of walked him through changing his remote to satellite,” she said.
Another time she remembers picking up the phone when the Canucks were in the playoffs and heard a male voice on the other end. “He didn’t even say hello or anything, he said ‘Who won the hockey game last night?’”
She’s been involved in events and news that has shaped the community – from a fire downtown when Marks and other stores burned down to landslides to the day when a car drove through the front window of the Standard’s office and parked right beside her desk. Luckily, no one was injured.
The Standard was also involved in many big events that shaped the community – from having a float at the Brigade Days parade to sponsoring a music festival downtown. And Desjardins has been the first boss to many a paper carrier over the years.
Supporting business for around 15 years now as the paper’s ad representative, Desjardins said she loves the local business community and their support for the paper. Her role in a small town is unique, and it’s really about supporting the small businesses. “Those are the heart of the community, those are the bones of what keeps us going.”
“You live in a small town, you get a classified ad in a napkin in the grocery aisle,” she said. “I get that all the time.”
And in a small community, it’s often about the personal touch. Just the other day, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Desjardins went to the home of an elderly resident who had requested a thank you to be printed after her birthday. She brought the proof to her doorstep. “I brought her a copy of the ad, because she doesn’t do computers or anything else, and I actually brought it to her door,” she said. “And then she phoned me the next morning, just to let me know it was OK…and she was just laughing.”
And while news and the practice of journalism comes under fire worldwide, she said community news and representing that community back to the town is just as important as ever. “It’s more than a matter of record, it’s our history in black and white,” was the saying of the Standard, she said. “And it’s such a good one, because once it’s in print, it’s there.”
The Hope Standard newspaper also picked up Silver in the general excellence category at the online ceremony Saturday night, for a paper with circulation between 1,601 and 3,500.
Many hands were involved in making this paper what it is this year – from Desjardins’ work on advertising, our publisher Carly Ferguson overseeing the operation, Janice McDonald’s circulation skills, reporters Sarah Gawdin and Jessica Peters as well as sports reporter Barry Stewart’s dispatches from the community. Our carriers and delivery drivers who get the news fresh off the press and into your hands.
And all of you who read, submitted story ideas, letters and photos, thank you. For those who critiqued, questioned and praised our work, we are grateful.