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My history, as told through old newsprint

My history, as told through old newsprint My history, as told through old newsprint

As I’ve admitted to before, I’m an irredeemable pack rat. I may not be ready for my own episode of Hoarders, but I’m able to fill several large plastic tubs with stuff that most people would have thrown away years ago.

In my defense, I’m a sucker for 20th century “analog” technology. You know, pre-Internet stuff like books, magazines, record albums, CDs and newspapers. This last category is especially important to me, as I’ve always made my living as an adult by working for a newspaper. In fact, I first drew a paycheck from my college newspaper — The Student Voice at UW-River Falls — way back in 2000. It wasn’t much, but it helped pay for a few rounds of beer at the downtown bars.

After that, I worked for as a summer intern for the Star-Gazette in Hastings, Minn., for three months. Once I was done there, it was up to Ashland for six years at The Daily Press, which preceded my time here at the Tribune- Phonograph.

My gray-paper collection includes a stack from each of these publications, and every once in awhile, I’ll break them out just to page through my history as a writer. Some of the material is cringe-worthy, like my adolescent humor columns in the Student Voice, but other stories really strike an emotional chord, even years later. While I was in Ashland, for example, I wrote a couple of stories in 2003 about a woman named Jody Ricard who went missing and was later found murdered. Seeing those articles inspired me to do a Google search, and lo and behold, in March of this year, police arrested a man who confessed to the murder.

It’s experiences like this really make me glad that I hang on to a lot of my old writings. I not only get to see how much I’ve evolved as a writer and matured as a person, but I can also revisit important events I’ve covered over the years. My archives offer a sense of history — both personal and of the world at large — that is unique among people in our vocation.

Still, those stacks of paper are pretty bulky, and they can take up a lot of room when you take them out of the plastic tub and spread them out for reading. Each time I delve into the stacks, I try to send a few items to the recycling bin just so the tub is just a little lighter.

The truth is, my collection actually goes further back than college. I also have a few issues of my high school newspaper, The Cooper Quill, and even some from a middle school publication called The TLC Today. Not much of what I wrote back then would really qualify as journalism, but it is still worth some good, nostalgic laughs.

My goal is to maybe bind some of these old papers in hard-cover volumes. If I’m not careful, though, I’m going to have a real fire hazard on my hands.