Editor’s Note, May 2010

Fresh from the printing plant, a magazine appears to be a seamless flow of words and images. But some articles are born only after a difficult labour, and would never see the light of day if not for the persistence of a writer who simply refuses to be deterred. Take Cam Sylvester’s profile of the Roman Catholic archbishop, Michael Miller. His Excellency is not in the habit of granting interviews (the diocese has a PR specialist to field or deflect queries), much less of allowing a freelance journalist to spend time with him. But Sylvester—who attended Catholic schools, and whose brother used to be president of Corpus Christi, the Catholic college at UBC—persevered until, I imagine, it became easier to grant his request than to rebuff him yet again. Six months of respectful harassment finally paid off, and more than a year after Sylvester’s initial approach—after many false starts, cancellations, and apologetic explanations—you’ll find his considered assessment of the archbishop “Grace Under Pressure,” on page 54. 

The images in a magazine can be every bit as hard-won as the words. Wendell Phillips’s Olympic photo on page 40 ends a process that began in fall 2008, when we supported his bid for 2010 credentials. There were far more applicants than spots available, but Phillips’s sterling curriculum vitae—he’s worked in more than 50 countries, had photos in scores of publications, and won innumerable kudos for his photojournalism—led the Canadian Olympic Committee to award him a precious spot in the international media corps covering the Games. 

Accreditation in hand, he prepared by packing up a bazooka-sized zoom lens and figuring out how best to divide his time among the various venues. Phillips, whose work for Vanmag has won two National Magazine Awards, had covered just about everything but an Olympics. He’s worked in refugee camps, civil uprisings, and war zones. He documented the aftermath of the catastrophic tsunami of 2004 and the earthquake that devastated Port au Prince. The Games involved its own set of logistical and technical challenges. For 17 days he worked almost nonstop—shooting all day, then editing and filing the photos that we uploaded to our website each night—before collapsing, flu-ridden and exhausted, into bed.

Both Sylvester and Phillips are freelance contractors, a species Vancouver couldn’t live without. If we didn’t have the committed expertise of such contributors, the magazine would be far less interesting to read and far less striking to look at. Hats off to them. VM