The Impossible Paper

Somehow, Prairie Dog made it to 25 years. The best is yet to come. Really.

25 | by Stephen Whitworth

They say time flies when you’re having fun. It’s true! As of this May, I’ll have been at Prairie Dog 19 years. While I promise you I feel the full weight of all the articles edited, headlines and cutlines written, covers art directed, photos, illustrations and freelancers wrangled, columns penned, blog posts blogged, editorials spewed and typos cringed at, the time has just zipped by.

I guess that’s life, huh? It moves fast so you’ve got to enjoy it while it lasts.

I have, and believe me, I am.

Working at a crazy newspaper with people you love and sometimes even get along with is an experience I treasure. I’ve met so many amazing people through this job — great and often hilarious writers, brilliant artists and designers and under-appreciated behind-the-scenes heroes who sacrifice their sleep, hair and sanity to make sure Prairie Dog keeps fighting the good fight.

Prairie Dog is a good fit with this town, too. Regina is a unique city. I understand why it gets picked on by people who don’t live here, and as someone who lives here I totally get how it drives us all crazy. But there might not be another place in Canada where you’ll more easily meet interesting humans.

Part of it is the size of this place. It’s small enough that everyone gets to know all “the people in the neighbourhood” (Sesame Street reference!). Whatever your interest, you’ll find folks who share it because Regina isn’t big enough for anyone with stuff in common to avoid one another. Into music? Congratulations, you can hang out with your favourite band. Love books? There are national-calibre authors at your favourite coffee shop (don’t be creepy). Dig football? I saw a few Riders at the pub, they’re super nice. Collect reptiles? This place is pet snake central (true, albeit weird, story).

Prairie Dog’s identity has been forged in the Queen City, which as we all know has a radical history (why else are conservatives so resentful?). We’re a paper with progressive, but not simplistic, politics. We’re strong supporters of feminism, LGBT rights, the labour movement, conservation and environmental causes, rationalism, equity, and a strong public sector.

We rarely whine about tax hikes because the fact is taxes are the price of civilization and people who don’t wanna pay it are probably jerks.

At the same time we try to advocate pragmatically — an ugly word thanks to people like Tony Blair, but still, we recognize that crummy compromises are part of being a grown-up. Also, there’s usually more than one legitimate viewpoint on an issue (not climate change, abortion rights or the earth being round, though. There’s only one right view on each of those things: “real”, “essential” and “a fact”, respectively).

This paper has always strived to focus on the underlying structural problems of society. We have strong (and often diverse) opinions on electoral reform and how to address income inequality. At the same time, we like dumb jokes and nonsense because this world is impossible to live in and if you take it too seriously you’ll go crazy (“Of course you’re depressed,” I tell sad friends. “It’s because you’re sane.” It’s true!)

Thanks to Regina’s support and, let’s be honest, the strength of our own delusions, Prairie Dog made it to 25 years. Quite the feat. We can all be proud of this achievement. We all should be.

Let’s stick together, Regina. With hard work and a little bit of luck, I bet we can make it to 50.