As a former newspaper reporter, I know firsthand the long hours and challenges demanded by the job of collecting news. Local news columns from the Sherburne County Star News reveal the difficulties and dangers of the occupation of newspaper correspondent.
Early in 1897 the newspaper published appeals for news and reports from around the county. “We would be glad to have anyone residing in town or county send in news items,” the editors wrote. “It is not necessary that the items be startling ones, for instance a murder, or a house burning up with all its inmates,” the paper published. “Any little pleasant social occurrence is always interesting: an entertainment you may have given; a trip you are taking; a friend who is visiting you; … as well as the stand-bys; births, deaths, and marriages.”
Both the editors and the correspondents often found news detecting difficult. In a local news column from Becker published on January 1, 1897, the Star News reported, “A lady seemed quite ruffled because she did not see a notice of her wedding last week. Well, we didn’t get a slice of cake.”
The art of gathering news was also dangerous. As the Star News reported in May of 1897, “Our reporter came near having his head knocked to a peak for not having any items in the Star News last week. Then there would have been something to write about.”
Reporting news demanded long hours, an ability to dig out gossip, and accept dangerous assignments. Not much has changed in the past 120 years. As you encounter the publishers, editors and reporters of the Sherburne County Citizen, the West Sherburne Tribune, and the Star News somehow acknowledge their efforts. Reporting the news in entertaining yet informative language remains a challenge and their efforts are appreciated.