Citizen journalism, old school


A friend of Jay Gabler sent him a reminiscence about “old school” citizen journalism from the 1960s. Ed Johnson remembers a radio show – I remember weekly newspapers with the same kind of news, and “correspondents” from Mannanah and Forest City who probably got paid fifty cents a week for their reports. Here’s the radio story:

Our family always had the radio on and from noon to 12:30 on KAYL radio, Andy Statz would give us the news, weather, and sports.
Then at 12:30, earnest volunteers from neighboring towns and villages would call in with news of the day. Of course these announcers were on their own in terms of writing the script and it was Lawrence Welk Wunnerful. Most of the news came from women chroniclers, who each would have something to say, no doubt about the weather, wedding anniversaries, a car accident, an influx of mosquitoes or something. Carl Larson picked a bushel of tomatoes and it’s not July 15th, and of course local sports stories, and church organizations holding some Hot Dish Event.

The stories Mom and I liked the best were those called fill-in-a-slow-news-day theme a la, “Joyce and StanleyPeterson from Alta, drove to Storm Lake Iowa, (a 7 mile ride) and spent the afternoon visiting Don and Vivan Cox in Storm Lake and they enjoyed coffee, cake and afternoon during the afternoon.” (Some reporters would then include–they returned back to their house in Alta after a lovely visit)
I think the towns were Albert City, Truesday, Sac City, Manson, Schaller, and  Alta; and  Hanover Township would call in and she was always the best. Given the German Township, her name had to be Hiltrude.
Mom and I, being Garrison Keillorites before there was a Garrison Keillor, would just simply enjoy the half hour of News Called No News But Really News.

Those good old days of citizen journalism may be long gone – but we promise a report on the Hotdish Revolution in Northeast Minneapolis later this month, and as much other hyper-local news and color as all of you can send.

(Thanks to Ed Johnson, executive director of the West 7th/Fort Road Federation, for the radio story!)