cover image News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist

News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist

Laurie Hertzel, Univ. of Minnesota, $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8166-6558-7

Much of Minneapolis Star-Tribune editor Hertzel's success can be attributed to her being in the right place at the right time in the 1970s. Bored with a part-time job shelving library books, a teenaged Hertzel applied for a job at the Duluth, Minn., News Tribune, answering phones, writing obituaries, and making coffee for the newsroom staff, most of whom were male, wore fedoras, and chain-smoked. Despite her lack of professional credentials, savvy editors loaded Hertzel with more and more responsibilities, until she found herself reporting the news during a time of extraordinary change, as a small city struggled to redefine itself after losing its manufacturing base, and its newspaper strived to adapt to declining readership. The most poignant chapters in this compelling memoir relate how Hertzel chanced upon the story of her career: in 1986 she accompanied to the USSR a group of Duluthians wanting to establish a Soviet sister city relationship. While there, she discovered a community of American expats, taken as children to Russia in the 1930s by their communist parents, some of whom were later executed. Her 2004 book, They Took My Father: Finnish Americans in Stalin's Russia made an accidental journalist an accidental author, but her storytelling abilities are no accident. (Sept.)