Matt Cory column: Quality begets quality
I started my journalism career typing in box scores via telephone and fax for the sports department at the Grand Forks Herald. Sometimes, they'd even let you do a short write-up on the game. Nothing glamorous, that's for sure; but there was a definite sense of pride in seeing your work in the next day's paper.
To inspire us, or to keep us in line, our Herald mentors always did a great job of reminding us "newbies" of those who came before us.
Virg Foss, the longtime beat reporter for University of North Dakota hockey, kept an updated list of former Herald part-timers who went on to successful careers in journalism, as well as to great success in other fields. (My favorite is Dave St. Peter, now president of your Minnesota Twins, who once took box scores over the phone as I did).
To know I worked for such a respected newspaper and was part of such tradition always was humbling; it made me want to work harder than ever to live up to those respected forerunners.
After this week, I'm going to start a new list.
A Bemidji Pioneer list.
Our cops/courts and county government reporter, Justin Glawe, informed me this week he is leaving to take a job at another, larger newspaper within Forum Communications, parent company for the Pioneer.
Justin will be the second departure from the Pioneer in the past month. John Hageman, who's covered Bemidji city government and politics for the past year, also is leaving for an FCC paper.
Ironically, both Justin and John will be reporting for my former newspaper, the aforementioned Grand Forks Herald, where I spent the past 19 years before coming to Bemidji earlier this year.
It's a good move for Justin and John as they continue to grow in their journalism careers. And it's a good move for the Herald.
And while you may think the immediate reaction here is to fret over losing two quality journalists, I tend to look at it as another feather in the cap for us here at the Pioneer.
We are a quality newspaper that attracts quality journalists. The rub, of course, is that after a few years, some move on. That's the nature of the newspaper business.
Our challenge is to maintain and continually strive to improve in order to attract journalists such as Justin and John and the others in this newsroom.
We have a mix of veteran journalists and young up-and-comers, the balance you want in a newsroom. There's the institutional knowledge of the community that veterans bring to the table, coupled with the eagerness of the younger journalists. It makes for a well-informed, dynamic and creative workplace.
In news and sports, reporters such as Bethany Wesley, Patt Rall, Christen Furlong, Jack Hittinger and Pat Miller are joined by copy editors Jerry Madson and Joe Froemming to produce two great newspapers (The Bemidji Pioneer and The American), both in print and online, for our readers. And who knows where we'd be without Jillian Gandsey, who does a lot of the unheralded work in the newsroom. You don't see her byline much, but if you read all the little snippets of news items, as well as the daily calendar, you've seen her work.
And, by the way, is there anyone in the area who DOESN'T know photographer Monte Draper?
Will Justin and John be missed? Will they be tough to replace? Of course. Both are strong beat reporters who have really helped kick-start our efforts to improve our online product, as well as reach new readers through social media.
Plus, it's always tough to say goodbye to co-workers and, more importantly, to friends.
But my promise to you, the readers, is we will continue to attract and retain quality journalists here at the Pioneer to best serve our communities.
So, to John and Justin, I say: Good luck, and you're on my list.