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Column

Lake Wobegon

Dear Garrison,

I can only hope that you’ve found some solace up there in Lake Wobegon, on the edge of the prairie. With any luck at all, your fictional town is living up to its name. These days I imagine you need all the luck that you can get.

We’ve seen some tough times in this business of ours, with sexual harassment allegations bringing down some of the biggest names in the business. I never really cared for the “Today” show, although I hope Matt Lauer is smart enough to follow Steve Miller’s advice and to take the money and run. As for Charlie Rose, based on the news reports, I’ve heard he’s got plenty of what we used to call chutzpah, and he’ll be just fine without any help from me.

Things are a little different up there in Minnesota I’d guess. There’s still plenty of wide open spaces, but I’m not sure there’s anywhere left to run. I’ll have to be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of the Prairie Home Companion, maybe because growing up on the edge of town you never really learn to romanticize the lifestyle until you’ve moved into town and left it behind. I guess you can’t miss peeing off your porch until you’ve had to go inside to use the toilet, just to keep the neighbors from calling the cops.

Even though I’m not really a fan, I can’t help but admire the impressive body of work you’ve churned out over your career. As a journalist, I’m well acquainted with the pressure of living under constant deadlines, an endless cycle on the hamster wheel if there ever was one. As journalists, we litter bylines across the landscape like a pack a day smoker tossing cigarette butts out the window of his pickup truck. With news outlets reporting today that your work is being systematically erased from Minnesota Public Radio, I wanted to let you know about an opportunity you might be interested in. Our newsroom here at Newton Daily News is currently in the market for another reporter, and I think you just might be the perfect candidate for the job. It must be hard to think about, all of that work, up and vanished, with just a couple of keystrokes on a computer somewhere. In Iowa, we tell a lot of jokes about our neighbors to the north, but I don’t think anyone’s laughing now.

I’ll be totally honest with you, it’s an entry-level position, and I imagine the candidate my boss Abigail Pelzer has in mind is a new college graduate, but that doesn’t mean you won’t meet our needs. You’d be joining a small, but dedicated staff of reporters, working hard to cover a town that might feel an awful lot like Lake Wobegon. We’ve got quite a few characters here in town, including a state senator that moonlights towing cars off the interstate, but we’ve got some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet right here in Newton. We’ve got homeless folks, rich folks and everything in between. There’s plenty of stories to be told here still.

The salary isn’t much and the hours tend to be long at times, especially when you’re covering a local meeting. You remember covering meetings, right? I imagine it’s been almost 50 years since you’ve sat on an uncomfortable chair for several hours, watching the second hand on your watch make another slow orbit. The life of a daily beat reporter isn’t much like that of a columnist or radio show host, but we all have to start somewhere, and right now I’m guessing you could really use a fresh start.

If you’re interested, and if you think a fresh start sounds like a good idea, send us a copy of your resume and a few clips to look over. Even though I’ve never been a big fan of the show, I’d be happy to see another experienced reporter join our team, and I think you’d like life in Newton, you’d even get to write your own column. We’re pretty proud of our little town here on the edge of the prairie. After all, in Newton all of our women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average.

Contact David Dolmage
at ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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