The Messenger of Juneau County - is more than just my employer, the people there have been now in my world for over three years, they are my co-workers and most importantly among the closest friends I have here in Wisconsin.
Sure you've heard me moan about that pay I get as a part time reporter, but what I haven't really explained is I love my job - and everything that comes with it. And no...this is not a lame attempt of kissing up to my editor...really.
It's more than just a job - it's an experience...something that has touched my life in so many ways. I mean really.. how cool is it to get paid to go to just about everything that happens in our rural community?
It' also been a life saver for me as a single mom. I do all of my writing from my home which allows me to be here for my kids, and if and when possible again, work another job at the same time. Plus many of those events I have to cover, the kids often come with me - had I not been in this position there's no way I would be able to take them to all these things .....plus for my youngest, Kyle, .."Mom is cool...she's a reporter" - there's nothing like that feeling when your children are actually proud of you and what you do...
Now picture if you can a small county...rural county in the middle of Wisconsin's rolling hills. We are the destination for Chicagoans, and wanderers from Minnesota....we are what they call an "outdoor playground"...fishing, camping, hunting, horse back riding, snow mobile riding in the winter are just some of the many things you can do while exploring this county.
With only around somewhere in the number of 24, 000 people or so living here in Juneau County, you can also imagine just how tight knit of an area it is...it has to be. Coming from living in the Chicago area I still have a hard time "slowing down" and getting use to the fact EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE, or...will be related somehow in the near future.
Mayberry with a twist I often say....so...then...imagine what it is like covering the news here...the news beyond those community events.
There's no way you can hide from it....one day you know the article you write will anger a friend...you know that when you're doing weekly shopping people will comment on something...you know that - it's a given. There's no hiding from it.
I go through extra pains every time it's one of those to make sure I was as impartial as possible in presenting the facts...ask my editor she knows..."Betty make sure you read it carefully, and tell me if it was fair? I gave equal time, equal opportunity, right?" I drive her nuts during campaign season.
When I tell other people who are not from here, what I do, they picture in their mind's eye a glamorous job.." A reporter? Wow!"
It makes me laugh every time.
No, really, it does.
Because I know. I know the steps that lead to this job...I know just how unglamorous I am when I am sitting in my house ...still in my jammies...typing away at those articles. I know just how stressful Tuesdays are...that dreaded deadline day...
But I also know how I love every minute of it..
Especially my little family at the Messenger - combining where we live and work, along with the people in our lives, there is never a dull moment. I've often said that one day I am going to write it all out and submit it to some producer for a sitcom.
In it I picture the Messenger office being the hub...the heartbeat of the story...and then all the offshoot stories coming out of that, from things we cover in this community to our own little dysfunctional family - Twin Peaks meets Walton's Mountain?
Perhaps one day..........
But one thing I can say, I am proud to be in that little family at the Messenger -
In a time when print media are taking financial hits left and right - closing their doors with headlines proclaiming "Final Issue" - we've stayed afloat and have survived.
Sure, it's been tough...
Some weeks there may be a few less pages than usual...
But we've remained.......
This small giant here in Juneau County has become more than just a newspaper, but more so an example...and example on how when people pull together...6 to be exact (yes just 6 of us make sure the paper gets out) ....anything is possible.
Six employees where three are actually owners brings hometown news to the residents here in Juneau County. Much like the Messenger being an independent paper, all 6 of us are just as independent and determined to keep it going in tough times..
There's Bill - the founder...a proud man whose entire life has been dedicated to news. The Messenger is his life, and like me, his family. It's what gets him up every morning, and most likely the last thing he thinks about when he lays his head down at night -his documented legacy that I am sure keeps this older man's heart beating.
Then Betty - owner and my editor fellow reporter and friend. Don't let her height and that blond hair fool ya - even though my little Kyle is taller, she will stand her ground when it comes to her passion - the paper and the news - A night owl like myself - we "get it" ...dig dig dig...go after that story and present the facts! Plus have some really interesting lat night conversations that only we "get".
Ahh..Dianna - owner, advertising sales, friend and p/t reporter - Another beautiful woman who has fiery red hair and in her heels towers over most men. Like me she ended up at the Messenger by happenstance. Dianna has a very common sense approach to everything, and has really surprised some...including herself...on just how good she is at what she does - plus she has one hell of a sense of humor - she can keep up with my life....all the things none of you know about...and still calls me friend, haha!
Betty, Dianna and I cover one side of the county while Eileen, Bill and Michelle cover the other side...
Eileen - advertising sales and reporter - This woman cracks me up. Literally...to know Eileen is to love Eileen. Like me she tends to get emotionally involved in some of the things she covers...she calls it "warm and fuzzy writing" - and I swear she has the most hits for driving and hitting deer..... Plus, and this is a big one, GIVE HER DETAILED DIRECTIONS TO WHERE SHE IS GOING....provide an escort if possible (love ya Eileen!) or send the search party and tell them to use the trail of deer hits as their guide. Seriously though this woman has a personalty that is so very appealing...she's real and is one of the main reasons the paper has survived through tough times...she's our bulldog when it comes to advertising sales.
Michelle - too many hats to count - Keeps that office I never go into going. She has absolutely no problem in working into the late evening hours if needed to get the paper out. She is the "happy" voice people hear when they call the Messenger - and is the one that can create ads that outdo most marketing professionals.
So there you have it...my co-workers who are so much more than people I work with....
And please know, YES, you too can buy a subscription of the Messenger - unfortunately the best story there is...the behind the scenes one...is just for us 6.....for now that is ;-)