I won a copy of Laurie Hertzel’s News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist (book trailer here) last year on my friend Amy’s blog, New Century Reading, after leaving a comment about one of my own accidental job choices.*
I felt bad because there has been little or no free reading time in the months since I’ve started a book group, in addition to the two I already attend. But when I finished through both Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours, I thought, it’s finally time. And what a joy it was to find the time.
I was eleven or twelve when I decided that journalism was my future. I loved to write, I loved to snoop, I always wanted to know everything first. Those are pretty much the only qualifications, when you get right down to it.
Hertzel started working in the newsroom of the Duluth paper(s) in the seventies, and got shoved out of copy editing into reporting at one point. Reading the book is like sitting down with a smart funny friend who tells great stories. I loved hearing about the old school days of newspapers along with the many and various personalities of the newsroom, which reminded me pleasantly of The Imperfectionists. She also has a fascinating tale of how Duluth came to have a sister city in Russia full of Finns, and the strange and wonderful coincidences that followed from there.
This is a great book for those who love writing, are interested in newspaper history/evolution, the Northern Midwest U.S., or the emigration of Finns during the Great Depression. That’s a terrible sentence, and a good copy editor would fix it.
*Edited to add: my accidental job experience happened in the fall of my sophomore year of college. My roommate was reading the campus newsletter and said, “Didn’t you have good SAT scores? This ad says you can earn $15/hour for The Princeton Review.” I went to an interview, got called back, then trained, then taught classes, then trained some more, then got a management position, and then an executive management position, then got sick of marketing, nearly eight years after that initial interview, and went to grad school to study religion on a scholarship I got largely due to GRE scores higher than they would’ve been if I hadn’t worked for a test-prep company for eight years. I have found ways to sneak in teaching and presenting in many ways since then, even if those have not been officially my “job.”