Journalism, Jackson And Jobs

The other day, someone asked me what time I usually went to work.

My reply: Whenever I get there.

He laughed and said something like, “It must be nice to have a job like that.”

I shrugged my shoulders, then said I had to work late that night. It all evens out in the end.

Eric Fisher (left), director of AGCO Jackson Operations, listens to Gov. Mark Dayton following the press conference in Jackson Thursday afternoon.

Next week marks the start of my 18th year in this crazy field of journalism. Oh, it didn’t start out crazy. Back in February 1994, I was hired as an editorial assistant, working alongside my former SDSU teacher and mentor Sheri Poore. It was a part-time job in Sioux Falls, S.D., working for a bi-weekly farm publication. My job was to edit the copy of great story tellers like Jim Woster and Baxter Black. I did a little layout and design, but mostly my job was to proofread.

My life as a journalist began to get crazy after I moved to Redwood County and started working as a full-time reporter covering the city beat, the farm beat and anything else that was thrown at me. Crazy then and crazy today have many similarities … and two big differences – the weekly versus daily, and technology.

Typically when I’m driving back to the office after covering an event or conducting an interview, the words are swimming around in my brain. I mentally write the lead paragraph, think about how the story should flow and then let my mind go blank by turning up the radio until I reach the newsroom.

On Thursday, after covering the exciting press conference at AGCO in Jackson, I was telling co-worker Kari the lead paragraph and a few additional sentences before we climbed the big hill out of Jackson. She quickly typed the words on her smart phone’s Qwerty keyboard and, in a matter of minutes … long before we reached the Lakefield exit, Daily Globe readers were getting a breaking news alert with the basic information of the announcement.

What otherwise would have been about an hour delay (driving back to the office, logging onto the computer and sitting down to type out a few paragraphs) was shortened to maybe 10 minutes.

It kind of makes me wonder what technological advancements will have done to our jobs in another 18 years.

A few weeks ago, I began reading a Thomas Friedman book, “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.” Ordinarily, I probably wouldn’t buy a book like this, but it’s for a book report I and a few cohorts in the U-Lead Academy must give during our upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.

I’m about one-third of the way through the book, and so far I’ve found it quite interesting (initially, I was completely dreading the assignment.) Friedman, a journalist (that’s not why I was dreading the book!) walks readers through the advancements in technology and how those advancements are flattening the world. In essence, expanding modes of communication has made it possible for companies to do work from anywhere, and serve anyone.

The book has really made me wonder just what this world will be like in another decade. Will most of our manufacturing jobs be moved to other countries? Will our stores be filled with even more products that are made overseas? Will it matter that a phone call we make to tech support is answered by a person in Bangalore, India – a person who has been taught to speak in the English slang?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I was awfully proud to be standing at AGCO’s press conference Thursday afternoon, listening to a recording of Alabama’s “40 Hour Week (For a Livin’),” followed up with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” and Johnny Cash’s “I’m Goin’ to Jackson” … and that was even before the big announcement was made.

Yes, the wonderful folks at AGCO are expanding in Jackson, adding jobs and bringing tractor production “back to North America” as Bob Crain said.

It is a great time for AGCO, a great time for the city of Jackson, the county, the region and the state.

And to be able to share that great news as a journalist, well, that made for an exciting drive back home in my little blue mobile newsroom.

3 Responses

  1. Rebecca LeTendre

    Nice column, Julie!! As I read I thought back to the earlier days of the Globe when my Dad was in your shoes there, the changes that have occured since that time, and the ones on horizon. Thanks for your clever thoughts.

    1. Julie Buntjer

      Thanks for reading! The changes have been incredible since your Dad’s days at the Daily Globe. When I went to college, I learned layout and design on the computer, but when I found my first full-time reporting job, I took a step “back in time” to cutting columns of copy and running them through the wax machine for paste-up. The advancements in just the last 10 years have really changed our industry.

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