Each year, during the first full week of October, reporters and editors around the country celebrate National Newspaper Week.
I use the word celebrate rather loosely. There is no party in the newsroom, no high-fives between co-workers and no gifts or extra perks handed out to those of us who work hard each day to bring you the news.
After all these years (15½ for me), it has become oh-so apparent to me that National Newspaper Week is about celebrating our First Amendment rights … particularly the one that addresses freedom of speech, and about promoting our product — bringing you, our readers, the news in our communities.
We can’t bring you the news without the reader tips and resources that come to our e-mail in-boxes and through our phone lines on a daily basis.
As reporters, we do not work an 8-to-5 schedule. We are here mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends and holidays because news never takes a rest.
While our work day never really seems to end, I tend to think I work in a rather exciting career.
So, in honor of National Newspaper Week, I’d like to share with you my list of Top 10 experiences as a reporter. Perhaps it will encourage you or someone you know to pursue a career in journalism.
10. Covering Seaforth’s Polka Fest as the editor of the Wabasso Standard. Wabasso barber Bean Bernardy tried to pull me out on the dance floor to dance a polka. I emphatically refused! I still don’t like the polka … just ask my mom. When she turns to the polka show on Sunday afternoon, that’s when it’s time for me to head home.
9. Following Mark Guetter through his beef cattle lot near Wabasso and seeing one of his Black Angus cows start to paw the ground as we walked through a pen filled with cows and calves. I was so scared that my hands were shaking, making it difficult for me to take notes!
8. Interviewing Century Farm families … all of them.
7. Covering a farm crisis rally in Worthington while I was working as the farm reporter in Redwood Falls in the late 1990s. The rally was in the grandstand at the Nobles County Fairgrounds, and Sen. Paul Wellstone was the featured speaker. I had never seen a politician more passionate about a cause before, and I haven’t since.
6. Interviewing farmers in the field. I used to do this a lot more before I came to the Daily Globe. Now, we send our photographer out to get photos and I talk to farmers on their cell phones as they work from their combines.
5. Looking for skinks in a wooded area along the Minnesota River Scenic Byway, north of Belview. There was a group of researchers out near Gold Mine (that’s what the place was called), and a Redwood Gazette photographer and I spent an afternoon walking through weeds looking for the researchers and the skinks. Fortunately, we never saw a skink!
4. Going to the Nobles County Fair every day and saying it’s for work! (By the way, it’s National 4-H Week this week as well.)
3. Taking a ride in John Bowron’s pick-up truck through a bison pasture near the Blue Mounds at Luverne. John was driving and Daily Globe photoguy Brian Korthals was on the passenger side to capture totally awesome bison pictures. I sat between the two as we travelled over bumps and dips and dodged a bison that started to charge at the truck.
2. Traveling the back roads near Brewster in the middle of the night with our photoguy Brian Korthals and Sports Editor Aaron Hagen (he just went along for the experience), as we tried to cover the fire at Minnesota Soybean Processors in late May. It was such an adrenaline rush at the time, and I felt guilty (I still do) for putting my co-workers in danger.
1. My interview with Twins legend Kirby Puckett. I am forever indebted to Cookie (aka Wayne Cook, then-sports editor of the Redwood Gazette) for handing me the assignment!