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An award which must be shared

Parker Knox
Published: Thursday, May 9th, 2013

 

My first reaction upon hearing from the South Dakota Newspaper Association that I was to be the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award was that there must have been an extreme shortage of nominees this year.
However, I know that not to be the case, so I proudly told my kids the news, and soon, considering how fast information can travel these days, the rest of my world knew.  Thanks sincerely to all who have sent complimentary words my way since then.
When the SDNA sent out a news release about the impending honor, I was labeled a “long-time journalist.” That also means “old,” but both are correct.  
In my acceptance speech at the convention in Rapid City, I shared proof of that by mentioning the Wenzels. Korrie is publisher at the Mitchell Daily Republic. Go back a generation, and there’s his dad Craig, who is publisher at Wessington Springs. Go back another generation, and there am I. I was Craig’s freshman English teacher in high school, and that was the first of my 17 years of teaching, all before I entered the newspaper business for which I was being honored! “Old” indeed!
One of the perks of living in a university town is the many speakers and events to which we are treated. Last month Capt. Mark Kelly, the astronaut and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, spoke at USD. He was asked by a student what advice he would give to someone graduating this year. His answer was all of four words — “Do something you enjoy.” Since joining the ranks of newspapermen in 1979, I have been able to do just that.
Oh yes, not all of the subsequent 34 years were peaches and cream, but the newspaper writing and reporting parts of them have been. To be honored for simply putting words to paper for others to read—something I really do love to do—is humbling indeed, and to be recognized by a group of many who do the same thing so much better than I is satisfying (and a bit embarrassing).
In my speech I thanked some of the people who enabled me to do what I have done.
There were the Hipples, who hired me once, hired me a second time and hired me a third time. Finally I figured out the Pierre Capital Journal was a good place to work and stayed for nearly 15 years as people editor. I was there when the patriarch of the family, the late Bob Hipple, was still writing his daily editorials from his roll-top desk on his manual typewriter.  I was there to work under his sons, John and George.  And I was there when the third generation, Terry and Kevin, were the bosses.
Helping to make those years fun was Dana Hess, who was Capital Journal editor all of those last 15 years. He gave me free rein to cover what I thought should be covered on the people pages, and many days he gave me extra pages because there was just so much stuff about which to tell the readers.  
He also allowed me as an old-school guy to continue to compose my pages of the daily paper the old-fashioned way—waxing the columns of news stories, cutting and pasting them to the pages—rather than having to learn that new-fangled pagination method by which all newspaper pages are created in this computer age.
At the same time I was working there, I was also trying to keep the weekly Onida Watchman going.  How we printed a newspaper every week for 17-1/2 years and remained sane in the process is something I still cannot fathom. 
But some of the people greatly responsible were the ladies who worked for me up there—Bonnie, Lillian, Alice, Jean, Stevie, Glynnes. We had some great times, some tough times and always fun times, especially on Tuesday nights when we took a break from finishing the paper to go out to the Fireside for supper.
Behind the scenes but no less important were all the people who called or wrote with news tips, those who encouraged me with kind words about a column or story they appreciated and the moms who kept scrapbooks of their kids’ accomplishments. They probably kept me in business as much as anybody!
To have my award presented with the Custer County Chronicle gang on hand and my boss there, Charley Najacht, in his role as SDNA president, made it extra special. I’d like to think I’d still be working there had not personal reasons taken me from the Hills to Vermillion in 2007.  I loved that town and the people in it.
And even in Vermillion, I found an opportunity to keep the words flowing, thanks to Dave Lias at The Plain Talk. He needed a high school sports reporter just a year after I arrived, and following the Tanager kids for the past five years has been a blast.
Back when I was at the Capital Journal, a kid at Washington School, seeing me approaching with camera bag in hand, regularly asked, “Are you the newspaper guy?” As I told the audience listening to me at the SDNA convention, I was thrilled to be considered one of them—they who are, to their respective communities all across the state, “the newspaper guy” or “the newspaper lady.”
There are worse things to be called than that.

My first reaction upon hearing from the South Dakota Newspaper Association that I was to be the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award was that there must have been an extreme shortage of nominees this year.

However, I know that not to be the case, so I proudly told my kids the news, and soon, considering how fast information can travel these days, the rest of my world knew.  Thanks sincerely to all who have sent complimentary words my way since then.

When the SDNA sent out a news release about the impending honor, I was labeled a “long-time journalist.” That also means “old,” but both are correct.  

In my acceptance speech at the convention in Rapid City, I shared proof of that by mentioning the Wenzels. Korrie is publisher at the Mitchell Daily Republic. Go back a generation, and there’s his dad Craig, who is publisher at Wessington Springs. Go back another generation, and there am I. I was Craig’s freshman English teacher in high school, and that was the first of my 17 years of teaching, all before I entered the newspaper business for which I was being honored! “Old” indeed!

One of the perks of living in a university town is the many speakers and events to which we are treated. Last month Capt. Mark Kelly, the astronaut and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, spoke at USD. He was asked by a student what advice he would give to someone graduating this year. His answer was all of four words — “Do something you enjoy.” Since joining the ranks of newspapermen in 1979, I have been able to do just that.

Available only in the print version of the Custer County Chronicle. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.

 



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