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Suddenly, I guess I am the old guy

By Staff | Feb 3, 2019

There are times when I feel like maybe I am getting to be an old guy.

Spending time at the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) Annual Convention the week before last was one of those times.

Now, before you start to say something smart like I feel like an old guy because I am one, give me a chance to elaborate just a little bit.

It is true that the first convention I ever attended was in February of 1972, which was a long time ago. I?was just a 21-year old newbie back then, and I was in awe of all the old veterans of the industry.

And now I seem to have become one of those old newspaper veterans.

I served on the newspaper association board of directors from 1992 to 2000. I was elected president of the association in 1998 and hosted the annual banquet at the 1999 convention.

It was duly pointed out to me that that convention was 20 years ago. Holy cow! Is that possible?

The current board members are all pretty young, at least compared to me. A couple of them are the children of the newspaper publishers I used to hang around with.

Take the new president of the MNA, Karin Ramige of the McCleod County Chronicle in Glencoe. I served on the board with her father, Bill Ramige, and have known Karin since she was a kid. Our two families have been good friends for, well, at least 30 years.

It is a similar situation for the newest board member, Tara Brandl, of the Marshall Independent. I have also known her since she was a kid, as she lived near Tyler while I was the editor/publisher of the Tyler Tribute. I watched her grow up, as she went to RTR Schools (Russell-Tyler-Ruthton) with my children.

Oh, there still are some old guys like me hanging around the convention. But we are getting to be few and far between. Most of the old editors and publishers I have known over the years are either dead, or basking in the warmth of Florida or Arizona.

And the last two weeks of bitter cold temperatures have started to convince me they might be smarter than I am.

There is some good news about the fact there are fewer old journalists running around the convention, and more young folks.

It means there is still a very strong interest in this strange yet wonderful profession that we do putting out quality work in our newspapers, including ads, stories, and photos. And, it means not every young journalist wants to work at TV stations, ad agencies, magazines or big metropolitan newspapers. There is definitely a bright future for newspapers, no matter how they evolve in the future.

It was also very interesting to listen to some of the guest speakers at the convention.

Dave St. Peter of the Minnesota Twins, new governor Tim Walz, and Senator Amy Klobuchar all spoke and included many references to the importance of newspapers to the work they do, and thanked the journalists at the convention for telling it like it is.

Walz and Klobuchar have both been strong supporters of the state’s newspapers and the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press.

In fact, Sen. Klobuchar was given the Distinguished Service to Journalism award at the convention this year. She has been a friend of newspapers for years, but recently she also was instrumental in getting the tariffs on Canadian newsprint supplies removed.

Getting rid of this threat to the survival of newspapers, especially small town papers, was critical.

There are lots of sessions at the convention, from how to take better photos, to the ethics of journalism, to looking at the future of our industry.

That future is not as bleak as you might have been led to believe. Especially with all the younger blood coming in to write great stories, take awesome photos and create good looking newspapers.

We are fortunate to have a tremendous staff here at the Register, which is reflected with our receiving seven awards this year at the convention. And, seven is not bad, considering there were nearly 5,000 entries into the contest this year and only 400 some winners.

We won for Best Magazine, Best Special Section, Best Advertisement, Best Columnist, Best Sports Photo, Best Feature Photo. And one more award, in the category with the obscure title of Best Explanation of Newspaper Operations and Newspaper Ethics. It is a category that has competition among all the newspapers in the state, regardless of size, weeklies and dailies.

Once again, it’s nice to be recognized for all our efforts by our peers in the industry. But, the real reward comes from you, our readers, when you tell us you think we put out a pretty nice newspaper.