So many wonderful opportunities at INA

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     This past week, several of us from the Monticello Express attended the annual Iowa Newspaper Association Convention in Des Moines.

     The highlight: witnessing our Publisher Mark Spensley receiving the Master Editor-Publisher Award. (I was also thrilled to see Governor Kim Reynolds in attendance Friday night at the awards banquet.)

     It was an honor to help nominate Mark for this award, with only three of these distinguished awards handed out each year.

     The Express has quite a history with major awards like this. In 1947, Chas A. Doxsee received the Master Editor-Publisher Award, followed by H.M. “Johnny” Jones in 1974, Bob Goodyear in 2000, and now Mark Spensley in 2019.

     The Express also won a couple of first place advertising awards, sold by Mary Yanda and designed by Abby Manternach.

     It’s always a blast to attend the INA convention every year. Not only do we get the chance to meet new faces in our industry, but we catch up with old friends as well. It was a pleasure to thorough visit with Jerry Blue, a newspaper owner in Oelwein. Some might know Jerry as the former promoter of the auto races and demolition derby at the Great Jones County Fair. I know Jerry as the legendary photographer of the Wadena Rock Festival, which took place on July 31, 1970.

     My uncle was 18 years old at the time and attended the event, which was likened to the famed Woodstock, which took place in New York a year earlier.

     I also have a book titled “The Wadena Rock Festival: From Courtrooms to Cornfields.” This book tells the story of how the Wadena Rock Festival came to be. It also quotes Jerry quite often and showcases many of his photos from the event.

     I have a fascination with the Wadena Rock Festival. A few summers ago, my mom and I took a day trip to Decorah to see the spectacular Dunning Springs Waterfall. We also stopped in Burr Oak to tour the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum. On our way back home, we drove past Wadena, and my mom informed me of the famed rock festival that took place there. She said her oldest brother went to the event, no doubt disappointing my grandparents at the time.

     We wondered why there was nothing in the town commemorating the festival… Jerry confirmed my suspicions that it is rather sad that nothing showcases the town’s history. This was Iowa’s Woodstock, people!

     We also attended numerous workshops on a variety of topics. I enjoyed the sessions that encouraged newspapers to become leaders in their communities and also a session on “Women in Journalism.” It was interesting being in the room of the latter program, filled with woman of different ages, different backgrounds, different experiences. I think we all just want to do the best job that we can in our perspective fields in journalism, whether we’re male or female. And we just hope that our audience respects the work that we do.

     There is so much to take away from INA, and the keynote speaker Friday morning helped in that endeavor. Ken Paulson, president of the Free Speech Center and former editor of USA Today, definitely pumped us up for the day ahead. When I left that session, I was proud to be a journalist. I was proud to be in the line of work that I am in. I was proud to report the news in my community. I am proud to be a part of a greater family of national journalists and reporters, all working toward the same goal: To report the news.

     I am also proud to work for an award-winning newspaper in Iowa. The Express staff works hard collectively and individually to serve our customers, readers, advertisers, and more. We pride ourselves on producing top-notch work. And, INA recognition aside, it’s rewarding when the public appreciates that hard work as well.

     So thanks for supporting your hometown newspaper!



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