Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Mustachioed and trying out for Gladys Knight's new Pips: The Paper Trail, D'Arcy Bresson and 'Hollywood' Glenn Evans. NASH 68, Toronto, 2006.

I didn't see his last issue, so I don't know if there was any fanfare for D'Arcy Bresson's departure as Editor-in-Chief of The Lance. He doesn't usually go in for that sort of thing, so I doubt it. Guess I'll do it.

I first met Bresson in 2004. I was interning at The Lance, just another scab volunteer from St. Clair who had always had a sweet spot for the UofW paper since my undergrad days [it was biweekly then, if you can believe it]. Bresson had by that point already been a large, if not total factor in taking The Lance from a biweekly broadsheet to a weekly tabloid with more colour, content and controversy. All without an increase in student fees, I believe. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong about that.

That was a banner year for him. It was the year the infamous 'We Pay Your Tuition!' ads for Cheetah's ran on the back page, enticing students to peel and earn money for school, sparking a controversy on editorial responsibility and advertising that haunted him for the rest of his tenure as EiC, not like it ever bothered him. The controversy got his shit-eating grin plastered on local, national and international news outlets [think CNN and MTV], and raised awareness of our little paper to unimaginable levels, for a year or two at least. It was around that time that I was introduced. He was already sort of a legend in my class, being heralded for his accomplishments and writing skills by the Journalism faculty at the College, where he graduated from before getting a BA in Comm Studies at Windsor.

When I first met him, I had the typical reaction one has when meeting him: I couldn't really stand the guy. D'Arcy always gives the impression that he's judging you. It's not his fault, he's usually just mulling over what you said, or your suggestion, sizing you up, but it can be disconcerting if you don't know him. The team that year, News Editor Ashley Dunn, Arts Editor Dina Masotti, Sports Editor Julie Sobowale and Bresson was a tight crew, a crew I found myself abruptly tossed into when Dunn suggested I applied for the News Editor gig she would be leaving, a gig I was hired on for and stayed at for two years, before I left Windsor and he generously offered me the Online Editor position.

As News Editor, I essentially found myself thrust into position as his right hand man at the paper. While probably the least read section, news carried the most prestige and dealt with the most volatile issues, so we were constantly popping in to each other's offices to brief each other, briefings that quickly turned into shooting the shit, which is where our friendship was born. A mutual love of WWE, geeky movies, Japan and Macintosh Computers eventually put us in a sort of synchronicity regarding where we wanted the paper to go, what we wanted it to evolve into. D'Arcy already felt we'd taken the print edition as far as it could go; he wanted to branch it out into other forms.

If were to wager, I'd bet that the 2005-2007 years were his favourites. Those were the years we implemented:
  • The Lance Podcast [audio]: roughly 15 or so episodes, updated every Thursday, providing supplemental news coverage and commentary.
  • The Lance Blog 1.0: A traditional, all-text blog for the editorial staff that, to be fair, never really got off the ground.
  • The Lance Blog 2.0: What you're reading now, updated twice daily for almost two years now, combined with
  • The Lance YouTube Channel: 35 videos and counting since 2006.
Bear in mind, while we were tossing all these little innovations together the five of us on staff were all working at least one other job and/or taking full course loads.

Meanwhile, D'Arcy continued playing his part as the most hated man on campus, taking the fall for every complaint about libel and bias allegations, the amount of ads, and our occasional gleeful nose thumbing at those in power and the conventions of polite behaviour [most of which was my doing]. People sometimes asked me if I ever wanted to be EiC, and I laughed in their faces everytime. I'm clearly not the sort who's built for civilized discussion when someone's calling me a douchebag and shitting all over my hard work. Nevermind balancing a chequebook.

D'Arcy is that sort. At least once a week when I was there he'd have to deal with someone who thought, with no experience, they could do a better job than him. And D'Arcy would sit and listen to their arguments, charm them, and politely point out that they didn't have the faintest idea what they hell they were talking about, without them ever realizing they were getting pwn3d.

Normally at times like this, one says 'I could never pick one moment,' that I'll always remember. But in this case that's not true; I know exactly what that moment is: the day he heard me cursing all the crap that came through the fax machine and told me to write a piece about it. That piece, 'Skipping Down the Paper Trail' morphed into a weekly editorial, something I'd always wanted, which then became the little microcosmic media empire you see before you. I'm not so immodest to credit him with the gimmick's endurance or success, but he deserves total credit for the initial idea.

While I knew the day would come, and while I have every confidence Ryan Rogers will do a fine job in his stead, I'll miss the sound of techno pulsing through his office, the way he peppers his conversations with occasional salacious details from his past you'd never expect [he's domesticated now, but the man could party like a rockstar], the way he's white and says 'Ciao' when he hangs up the phone. I'll miss my friend.

D'Arcy, you should always remain proud of what you've accomplished during your time at The Lance. Thank you for the opportunities.

Love him or hate him, raise your glasses, people.


Anonymous David said...

If the first edition of the new paper is anything to go by, his role at the Lance is already being missed. I always had enough respect for D'Arcy for his work behind the scenes and his vision for the paper, especially in recent years as you've noted Jordan. He always had an even-tempered way of dealing with the politics and bureaucracy heaped onto the Lance, be it from the UWSA, Ross Paul, the women's studies dept., whoever.

At the same time though, he often gave too much slack to some editors who had poor copy-editing and writing skills (not you Jordan, I'm thinking more towards those who preceded you.). While his layout design and formatting was tremendous, the stories he did such a good job of promoting were often poorly written, sourced, and otherwise covered inadequately. Certainly I was guilty of writing some shitty ones while I was there, but my issue was the lack of oversight at the highest level in terms of monitoring quality.

In any event best wishes to Mr. Bresson, nobody can ever say he showed the contempt or lacked the ambition and foresight in his position that those in the UWSA who constantly skewered him have demonstrated they're capable of.

12:40 AM

Blogger The Trail said...

I'd agree there were some occasions when, as the final line of defense before hitting the stands, he may not have caught everything as closely as he should have. I know for my own part, it took me a long time before I realized that correcting a poorly written story was not being disrespectful to a volunteer writer who worked for free, it was helping them learn how to do it better, since they would inevitably barge into the office demanding to know who the hell I thought I was.

He was always good for letting us sink or swim that way, to make our mistakes and learn from them. But yeah, I can't say there weren't times he didn't take note of some formatting I'd done for a column, which would then go to print without and make no damn sense. Such is life.

Thanks for stopping by, David.

1:06 AM


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