It's time for my annual battery recharging and attitude adjustment retreat.
This week several staff members of the Faribault County Register including yours truly are headed to the Twin Cities for the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention.
For one of the Register staffers, it is the very first newspaper convention she will ever have attended.
Not so for me.
It is my 39th and the 37th one I?have attended consecutively. So, as they say, "it's not my first rodeo."
And yet, I?am a piker when compared to my friend and fellow newspaperman, Chuck Warner, from Brownton. Last year he attended his 60th convention in a row.
In the years I?have gone to the MNA convention I?have met some interesting people while there. Vice Presidents Spiro Agnew, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, Garrison Keillor, Princess Sarah Ferguson, Sid Hartman, Senators Paul Wellstone, Amy Klobuchar, Rudy Boschwitz, Dave Durenberger and Mark Dayton, and governors Arne Carlson, Tim Pawlenty and Jesse Ventura.
Ventura holds a special place in my heart. At the January, 1999, convention, as president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, it was my duty to introduce the governor as a guest speaker at the annual banquet.
Imagine, introducing the governor who did not like the press to a room full of 800 newspaper people.
It was very interesting, to say the least.
Over the years I have hosted some sessions at the convention and led others.
I have to admit, I enjoy the Minnesota Newspaper Association convention each and every year.
As the opening line of this column states, it is my time to meet with colleagues, discuss issues pertaining to the newspaper business and perhaps learn a thing or two.
I always feel a bit charged up after the convention, ready to go back to work and publish a better newspaper.
Last year was no exception. In fact, it was the epitome of coming back fired up.
The Register staff members who attended last year's convention also felt the same way.
So, we held a staff meeting and decided we would try and raise our efforts in producing the Faribault County Register to the next level.
I called it "ratcheting it up."
While I feel the Register has a long history of being a quality newspaper, we wanted to try and put a little more dazzle into it.
We have worked on our photo quality, types of stories and, in particular, our design.
This past year we have tried to use larger photos on the front page, used more color, created more photo cut outs (where the type wraps around parts of the pictures) and created more and more visual effects.
We wanted to be a little more "in your face" with our graphic design.
Perhaps you noticed it, even if it was just subconsciously.
Our efforts did not go unnoticed by the judges of the annual Better Newspaper Contest.
Each year, there are usually close to 4,000 entries in the contest. It is not the easiest task to win an award. Besides the sheer number of entries, the quality of those entries is usually top-notch.
The staff at the Register has been pretty excited since learning that this year we have seven state awards waiting for us at the convention.
The newspaper association staff is pretty tricky. They let us know we have won something, but not specifically the exact award.
However, they have given out enough hints that I believe both the news staff and the advertising staff each won a couple of awards, as did the entire staff as a whole.
That makes it special. After all, we are a team, and our efforts are definitely a team effort.
We will announce the awards in the next issue of the Register.
Being recognized by our peers for the work we do is always nice. No denying it.
But, winning awards is not the main reason we work so hard to put out the best newspaper we possibly can.
It is for you, our readers. Our goal every week is to bring you the best newspaper product we possibly can, so you will continue to want to read it each and every week.
If we receive a little extra recognition for our efforts, that is just a little sweet frosting on the cake.
Thanks for reading us.