Growing up as a young sports fan, there was no internet, no cell phones, many games weren’t even televised. Every morning for years my dad would fetch the Vancouver Sun from our front door, and he would take out the sports section for me. It was a must do ritual, as I couldn’t get enough of the articles about the BC Lions, the Canucks and the Whitecaps.
Sports writers are storytellers and conduits of information for sports fans across the province, and I often dreamed of doing the same for a living one day, though I never followed that dream.
Within the last two years, Vancouver and the province of British Columbia have lost two of the best and two men who provided BC Lions fans with the most reliable, professional and in-depth coverage of the team.
First, it was Lowell Ullrich of The Province, and today Vancouver Sun writer Mike Beamish announced he was retiring after 43 years on the job, many of those covering the Lions. Thankfully others have brought Lowell aboard so we can continue to enjoy his work.
Hired: Nov. 27, 1974. Retired: April 21, 2017. After 5 decades of sports writing, my @VancouverSun career ends. Farewell faithful readers.
— Mike Beamish (@sixbeamers) April 21, 2017
— Lowell Ullrich (@FifthQtr) April 21, 2017
The industry has claimed another victim, but maybe Mike was ready to go anyway. He’s worked hard and has earned a relaxing retirement, but what’s happened in the newspaper industry is a shame. The talented journalists who have brought us up with their stories are being forced out, skeletal staff remain and we the readers are the worse for it.
Social media has created a whole new world of competition for the papers, radio stations and television stations. Everyone has a camera, everyone has access to information as it happens, or thinks they do anyway. What do we need newspapers for?
Well for one, we need the talent that these writers possess. We need the diligence that they do their jobs with to ensure that a story is correct. Journalists are the ones that hold people accountable, and report the news has it should be by getting it right the first time.
I’ve always enjoyed talking about sports and particularly took a liking to the CFL and the BC Lions. Writers like Lowell Ullrich and Mike Beamish were part of that, as I’m sure they have been for many, many others.
I started this blog because of that dream I talked about earlier and because I felt there just wasn’t enough Lions coverage in a Canucks crazy market. I had the pleasure to deal with both Lowell and Mike over the years and they treated me with nothing but respect. They were always accommodating to me as a blogger and a podcaster, even allowing me to bounce a few fact-checking questions of my own off them from time to time.
However the media rebrands and reinvents itself, it’s important that we support it. Journalism is an important part of our society, and we should never, ever let it die. Lions fans have lost two hall of fame worthy writers in the last two years. They won’t be easily replaced.