Tragedy hits home

Shock, horror, disbelief. 

When my phone rang on Saturday with the horrific news that one of our own staff members was killed, disbelief is the first thing that hit. 

Louise Phillips, I thought. Is there another Louise Phillips in town? That simply can’t be our Louise.  

No, not the sweet lady who greeted me at the door every morning, who never had a cross word, who hand-sewed picture frames for all three of my children so my oldest wouldn’t feel left out when the newborn twins were being showered with attention.

It just couldn’t be that lady. 

And yet it was. 

We in journalism are trained to be objective, to try to cover issues fairly and without becoming personally involved. 

But how do you cover a story which touches so close to your own heart? 

The Observer is a small paper and most of the staff have been around a pretty long time. We’re a family of sorts, dysfunctional sometimes, but there is a sense of shared purpose, of working to record this community’s history as it happens. This creates a strong workplace bond.

We know we have a responsibility to cover the facts, to tell the story just as we would if this incident happened to anyone in our community. And so, we contacted RCMP media reps and drove out to the scene to take photographs from behind yellow police tape. 

And yet, we cannot forget. This is not someone else’s story. 

Louise was one of ours, an office manager/den mother of sorts. I think it would be completely irresponsible to try to convince our readers that this hasn’t affected us here at the paper very deeply. We have lost one of us and there is grief filling our building on Shuswap Street. 

I will not pretend that Louise and I were close friends — but we were friends. The day she died, I joined her and two other ladies as we braved the icy lunchtime wind for a walk around McGuire Lake. 

I walked behind her husband as he walked down the hall Friday to see his wife in our lunchroom and bring her a sandwich. 

And just a few short hours later, she was taken from us. 

So now we struggle with doing our job. Telling the story, just the facts ma’am. We are trying to set aside our grief and put this paper out and report as fairly and accurately as we always strive to do. 

But you’ll have to accept our apologies for our inability to remain “observers.” 

We will do our best to be professional in our coverage, but we can’t be unemotional. We are a part of Louise’s story. She touched the lives of every person that works in this building. And we grieve her shocking, untimely loss very deeply. 

That’s a story that also needs to be told. 

 

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