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Farewell to Ottawa Sports Pages Editor Charlie Pinkerton

Message from Ottawa Sports Pages Executive Director Dan Plouffe:

Well readers, this has probably got to be the saddest letter I’ve had to produce, since we are saying goodbye to our long-time Editor Charlie Pinkerton, whose last official day with us was yesterday.

During his time as the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Editor, I really can’t tell you how much Charlie has contributed to our organization and the local sports community alike – we’ll remain forever indebted for his tireless efforts.

I don’t think there are many people who truly understand the level of Charlie’s dedication to our mission of providing a spotlight for local sport. Countless late nights, early mornings and weekends – usually balanced alongside his daytime job (first with iPolitics and now with Queen’s Park Briefing in Toronto) or volunteer roles, like with the Ottawa Sports Awards.

A lot of Charlie’s work was the “unsung hero” type. Copy editing and fact checking, laying out newspaper pages and making the text fit, mentoring many young journalists, researching, planning and organizing coverage, and pulling off the occasional “rescue” (when he’d magically transform a word salad into a publishable story).

Charlie’s been the engine that allowed us to keep the news rolling during the pandemic, including exceptional work on our Inclusion in Sport Series editions, and helping to pioneer this newsletter, as well as daily coverage of Ottawa at the Olympics, Paralympics and Canada Games. The list goes on and on, believe me.

September marked five years that Charlie had been Editor. We were so blessed to have him during that time, and longer, dating back to his time as a regular freelance writer while studying journalism at Carleton University.

We’ve enjoyed hundreds of contributions from the patented Pinkerton Pen as well. Charlie’s among a rare breed of writers to whom you give more space and the story actually becomes better. With his magazine-style storytelling prowess, he crafted many, many great features on the city’s community, high school, university and elite ranks.

A countless number really, though we’ve struggled hard to get it down to 10 of our favourites that we’d like to share with you as a bit of a tribute and for your weekend reading pleasure:

Gratitude a driver in AJ Osman’s pursuit of basketball stardom
(December 15, 2021)

After overcoming a tragedy, Brianna Hennessy has set her sights on the Paralympics
(May 12, 2021)

‘Basketball is basketball’ for glass ceiling-shattering coach Perrin-Blizzard
(April 23, 2021)

Ottawa athletes’ attitudes and ideas about solving unbalanced coverage of women’s sports
(April 23, 2021)

Ottawa Bicycle Club alumni share same track to Canadian Olympic cycling team
(August 26, 2020)

Perfect finish gives closure to Smith’s up-and-down university soccer career
(December 16, 2018)

Tiger culture a game-changer for Hoosier-commit
(August 19, 2018)

Born to ball: Barrhaven’s Merissah Russell is on the come-up
(May 17, 2018)

Ravens rewind: The journey of the 2018 U Sports women’s basketball champs
(April 12, 2018)

Topflight’s got next in the nation’s capital
(March 8, 2018)

The path ahead for Ottawa Sports Pages

We’re not going to try to spin this in a positive way like companies sometimes do when they announce “downsizing.” This stinks, this hurts, and losing a person of Charlie’s calibre makes our organization worse off from many angles.

The reason for Charlie’s departure is pretty simple – we don’t currently make enough money to continue paying him. It was a challenging climate market for independent media to begin with, before COVID delivered another whopping blow.

Some government supports (plus Charlie’s motor) helped us get through the past couple years, but like a great deal of our partner sports groups can attest, COVID’s impacts continue to hurt. Our advertising revenues for 2021 were 48% of what they were in 2019, and we still have a long way to go in our recovery.

We’re brokenhearted to have to make this painful business decision, but our organization is determined to continue providing a voice for local sport, and I guess this move does keep us alive, though wounded.

We’re not quite sure how Charlie ended up with the OUA trophy in this photo, but we know he’s a champion journalist (if not athlete).

For the moment, I (i.e. Dan Plouffe) will resume the Editor’s duties that I previously held prior to Charlie’s arrival in 2017, and veteran High Achievers columnist Martin Cleary will continue to write about our sports community daily on OttawaSportsPages.ca.

We hope there will be brighter days ahead for our not-for-profit organization and that we can reverse our trajectory, and maybe even welcome Charlie back one day if we’re lucky enough. We do still plan to have Charlie write for us on occasion, and we’re so grateful to have him in our corner.

Lastly, we want to send the biggest of thank yous to Charlie for all his tremendous work and dedication, and wish you well in all your future pursuits – we know you’ll knock it out of the park!

— Dan Plouffe

Message from outgoing Ottawa Sports Pages Editor Charlie Pinkerton:

Since the beginning of my time as Editor of the Ottawa Sports Pages, I of course knew that yesterday would eventually come.

It is, however, unfortunate to officially part ways with the publication that I cherish so much under the circumstances that I have.

To our readers and supporters, I’m deeply appreciative to you for following the work of the Ottawa Sports Pages — for however long you have. I hope you’ve enjoyed our storytelling, and maybe learned something about a neighbour, been inspired to try or get back into a sport, or been encouraged to get out there and cheer for any of the Ottawa athletes or teams we’ve written about.

I hope you’ll continue to read the Sports Pages in my absence. I’ve also got a couple of favours to ask you.

My most important parting request is this: Please consider making ongoing donations to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund. Like Dan alluded to, our industry is a challenging one, specially so for small independent publications like the Sports Pages.

The stories the Sports Pages publishes are free to read, as they have been since long before I came along. But, in lieu of charging subscription fees, it will need at least some more readers to regularly chip in, so that it can continue (and hopefully someday grow!).

Spreading the word about the Ottawa Sports Pages, like by forwarding this very newsletter, and encouraging the sports lovers in your life to subscribe is another way you can support the publication, and its unique role.

I’d be happy to be corrected, but I think Ottawa is the lone Canadian city where there’s a publication that covers its local sports scene and amateur athletes and teams with the depth the Sports Pages does.

My favourite thing to tell people over the years has been that the Sports Pages’ work is also done in tandem with the CAMPS Project — its partner program that helps fund opportunities in sport for children and youth from low-income communities. For this reason more than any other, I feel so fortunate to have worked for such an organically good organization for as long as I have.

We’ve done far-too-much work that I’m proud of to properly sum up since I became Editor of the Sports Pages in September 2017, but I’ll try anyway. We published 33 physical newspapers, somewhere between hundreds to thousands of stories, persevered through an often sport-less COVID-19 pandemic, transformed into a fully digital, newsletter-based publication, brought exposure to hundreds of Ottawa athletes, and — undeniably — filled a gap in Ottawa’s sport community that would have been empty without us. I am so thankful to all the wonderful people involved in local sport that I’ve got to meet and who helped us with stories.

I’m also very thankful to Dan, Martin Cleary, and the numerous others I’ve worked with at the Sports Pages over the years for proving time and time again how satisfying an impact a few people dedicated to journalism can have in a community.

To Dan, specifically, I owe a great deal. Working with the Sports Pages over the last five years has been incredibly fun, immersing and challenging — in the most rewarding way. The experience has also been instrumental to my career and progression as a writer and journalist.

Dan is an upstanding person, a loyal and hardworking boss, and a true friend. There’s no one better who I could pass (back) the responsibilities of being the Editor of the Ottawa Sports Pages than Dan.

That’s a wrap from me. Farewell, for now.

–Charlie Pinkerton

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