Review: News to Me by Laurie Hertzel

199. News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist by Laurie Hertzel
Publication: Univ Of Minnesota Press (August 5, 2010), Hardcover, 224pp / ISBN 0816665583
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Rating: Buy it!
Read: October 10-11, 2010
Source: Publisher (via author)
Summary from the website:

News to Me is the adventurous story of Hertzel’s journey into the bustling world of print journalism in the mid-1970s, a time when copy was still banged out on typewriters by chain-smoking men in fedoras and everybody read the paper. A coming-of-age tale in more ways than one, Hertzel’s eighteen-year career at the Duluth News Tribune began when journalism was a predominantly male profession. And while the newspaper trade was booming, Duluth had fallen on difficult times as factories closed and more and more people moved away. Hertzel describes her climb up the ranks of the paper against the backdrop of a Midwestern city during a time of extraordinary change. She was there during major events like the Congdon murders, the establishment of the BWCA, and the rise of Indian treaty rights, and eventually follows the biggest story of her life to Soviet Russia—and completely blows her deadline.

Written with the insight and humor of someone who makes a living telling stories, News to Me is the chronicle of a small-city newspaper on the cusp of transformation, an affectionate portrait of Duluth and its people, and the account of a talented, persistent journalist who witnessed it all and was changing right along with it—whether she wanted to or not.


Like Kim, I’m pretty much the perfect person for this book because a) I’m interested in memoirs of people who were on the cusp of something important happening (and journalists tend to be those sorts of people), b) I used to live in Duluth, where this book mostly takes place! I also appreciate memoirs that are told with a lot of humor and vivaciousness, as this one is, and especially in memoirs about the history of journalism! (Because of being obsessed with All the President’s Men, actually.)

News to Me was so cheerful and so fun to read that I’m not quite sure where to pick out specific parts that I loved, because I loved all of it. I loved reading about the changing environment of the newspaper office, about Duluth and the Twin Cities and, later on, Russia and the east coast. I loved reading about the different people Ms Hertzel met and worked with, and her own changing views on journalism and what she herself could do as a person. It also really made me want to go visit Duluth again, which I haven’t seen in about 10 years.

Like Kim said in her review, you don’t necessarily have to be interested in journalism or even Minnesota to enjoy reading News to Me. I think everyone who enjoys memoirs would like this book, because it really does feel like you’re visiting a fun aunt who’s telling you stories about her job while feeding you cookies and apple cider. I keep using that word– fun– and I really do think it’s what best describes News to Me. FUN. You want to have some fun with your reading, right? So check out this book, because I think it’ll fit the bill.


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Other reviews: Sophisticated Dorkiness | Far Side of Fifty | The Iota Quota | A Closer Look at Flyover Land

Here’s the book trailer:

Writing this review has made me miss Duluth so much! Even if it IS impossibly cold in the winter and Lake Superior looks like something from a horror movie. I miss the bridge! The boardwalk! The interesting buildings downtown! The wonderful libraries! The trains! The playground that looked like a castle! Tours of creepy ships! Sammy’s Pizza! The zoo!

Okay, gotta stop before my brain spontaneously combusts. But! Duluth is a wonderful place to visit, and if you can go up there and do so I’d really recommend it. Maybe not in the winter, though.

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