When I started as editor of The Voice, there was a small staff already in place. Leah Camara had years of experience working for the Federation, and then moving to The Voice where she has been in charge of layout and design. For me, her knowledge of the ins and outs of the community, and the paper, immediately became invaluable along with her ability to put together the puzzle that is each issue.
Tricia Stearly, advertising manager, put everything she had, and a knowledge of small newspapers, into helping advertisers understand the value of reaching our audience, despite questions about the future of print newspapers in general. Karen Borger, our part-time sales representative, and an active member of our community, coupled her enthusiasm with a journalism background in every business contacted. Together, they demonstrate every day that print advertising still works, especially advertising that reaches a specialized and committed audience like our Voice readers. It’s hard to say “no” to this crew.
And then there’s our part-time reporter, Irina Missiuro. She doesn’t work in the office, I was told. She doesn’t have to; she lives right across the street! Irina hadn’t been working for the paper for long – only a few months. But she was rapidly establishing herself as an invaluable member of our devoted team. She stepped up to work full time during the search for a new editor that resulted in my hiring. In addition to covering the community, she came in and proofread pages. She ensured that the calendar was complete each issue (though she hated that job). Newspaper background? No. She has a bachelor’s in English and writing from PC and a master’s in English and American literature from BC. But she embraced the newspaper and learned the ropes.
I quickly discovered that you could give Irina any assignment and, though she may not have been enthusiastic about them all, she gave each and every one her best. And, really, who is enthusiastic about everything?
She wrote articles about new staff and programs at the Alliance. She tackled interviews with older members of the community. Business profiles? No problem. Profiles of women in business? She could do that. And I started to hear that her profiles of people in the community were sensitively done and well thought out.
I had to agree.
We take photos here at The Voice, too. I don’t think Irina thought she could do much of that. But she has learned to take pictures with our slightly complicated staff camera. And she does them well. Perhaps none of us will ever win a photo award, but we know readers love seeing lots of pictures.
As an editor of a small paper, I tell everyone who steps in our office that you cannot turn down an assignment just because you don’t like it. You have to try everything at least once. We are too small to be picky. Irina will tell you she’s heard that more than once.
You have probably guessed there’s a reason for this “Ode to Irina,” and there is. Monday she starts a new, full-time job at Hasbro. She’ll be “editing toy boxes for the European market,” she tells us. You will still see her byline from time to time as she is launching a fitness journey at J-Fitness and will be writing monthly about her progress.
We are very excited for her, and we wish her well.