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Art Mantell would be proud

October 11th,2023 | Opinion

As we flip through the pages of the Low Down’s 50th anniversary edition, it’s hard not to get emotional. 

The old photographs of the late Art Mantell, vintage stories from the past, a roster of reporters who went on to even greater things — memories. 

But what got me the most was coming into the newsroom to see publisher Nikki Mantell laying out the final pages of the anniversary section, tears slowly welling up in her eyes, her shoulders sinking into her body. The body language said everything: “I wish my dad was here to see this.”

I’m fighting off tears as I write this editorial and wishing the same — that the great Art Mantell could see how the newspaper, which he and his wife Kitty started 50 years ago with a typewriter and a bathroom-turned-darkroom, is soaring today. He would be so proud. 

He would be proud to see how his nose for news and his love of the craft rubbed off on his daughter — err, maybe imprinted onto his daughter is a more accurate term. Nikki really is just an extension of her father in the newsroom (minus the 1960s insults and with a much better wardrobe) and it shows with the hard-hitting local news, punchy headlines and the intrepid reporting we’re still known for. 

He would be so proud to see headlines like, “The curd on the street” for our poutine review.

He would be proud to see us taking on the cops, fighting Bill 96 and still not backing down from the language police. He would have been happy to see us take a Freedom Convoy tour with organizers, even if the coverage had readers chasing us down with proverbial pitchforks. Art wouldn’t have had it any other way.

He would have been so happy to see us break the national story on Bill 21 and how it reignited a national debate over secularism in Quebec. 

He would be proud to see this writer – once a fresh-faced reporter with really bad writing skills – become editor-in-chief — with decent writing skills. 

But I think if there is one thing Art is most proud of these days, it would be his daughter, Nikki. She didn’t just take the keys to her father’s empire and run — she built upon it and made it greater than even he could have imagined. 

For years, Nikki was everything at the Low Down. Publisher, editor, reporter, photographer — the list goes on. I once witnessed Nikki rush out of a Writer’s Fest event – to chase a firetruck up Mill Road because there were no other reporters around. That’s dedication. 

Nikki has kept her father’s legacy pristinely intact in the Low Down. The status quo has never been good enough for Art; it’s not good enough for Nikki; and will never be good enough for the Low Down. 

The Low Down is truly special. It’s unique; it’s local, it’s independent; and it’s part of the fabric of this community. The Low Down is the glue that holds the Hills together, and Nikki the glue stick that never runs out. 

I’m so lucky to work with such a passionate leader, understanding boss and compassionate friend. 

Thanks for literally everything, Nikki. We all love you so much.

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Support feisty, independent journalism.

 

At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

To help meet the demands of inflation and the costs of producing fact-based local news, we have introduced new pricing options. Our goal is to meet readers where they’re at, and keep our newspaper as affordable as possible.

Print + Digital Subscriptions

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