An ode to my past

Craig Shultz
Madrid Register-News Editor

As we may know, April Fools Day fell on a Friday this year. I had scheduled to take the afternoon off due to the forecast showing it to be a beautiful day, and it most certainly was. I was over in Ames when a former colleague of mine sent me a message on Messenger.

When you see something on April Fools Day that starts with “This is not an april fools joke,” you tend to already take it with a grain of salt. My friend began to explain to me that the newspaper we had both previously worked at was being sold. On April Fools Day.

It was still a bit of a shock to my system so I began to investigate a little bit. Turns out this wasn’t a joke and the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune had indeed been sold… to their in-town rivals the Storm Lake Times.

Having worked in Storm Lake for nearly five years, and been part of the Pilot Tribune family, I was disheartened to hear this news. This was the last war between two newspapers in the same town in the entire state. For a few years it appeared as if the Times was on the ropes, but we were all had.

The Times was able to gain the momentum thanks to Art Cullen’s book about Storm Lake, and a featured documentary about the newspaper and town that has appeared on PBS. Regardless, the entire situation was like a knife to my gut.

I grew as a writer and photographer while with the Pilot Tribune. Without that newspaper and the guidance of the staff that was there, not sure I’d be where I am today. An editor, who had been with the Pilot Tribune for over 35 years is now looking for a new job despite the Times saying they would keep everyone on staff.

You don’t see rivalry between papers like that often anymore.

But, this is the harsh reality of the newspaper business in 2022. Papers are being bought out and shut down nearly every single day across the country. It’s not just an Iowa issue or a specific part of the state issue. This is something that happens, and it’s harming local communities.

Without someone like Dana Larsen who edited my work to make me look good enough until I was good enough, not sure I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply to work down here in Boone County. Without peers in that company who took the time to explain to me what makes a good sports photograph into a great sports photograph, I’m not sure I’d enjoy photographing sports so much.

I remember dreading my first performance review. I wasn’t sure how I was doing and this was the only time I really ever had one and it was good enough. Dana had said I was a pretty clean writer and had a good grasp on making a good story.

To hear that from someone who had been in newspapers longer than I had been alive was one heck of a compliment.

During the start of the pandemic, when sports were canceled, I was tasked to help out with some regular news or even news regarding current events and how everything had changed. Again, grew my confidence to where I could be something more than just a sports guy.

When I accepted the position to work for Ogden and Madrid, and I had turned in my two weeks (which was tougher than expected), the general manager looked at me and smiled.

“Wow! Good for you!”

I think they had been expecting me to leave for a while but I wanted to wait for the right opportunity to pop up before doing so. I haven’t been back to Storm Lake since I left. I had planned on popping in at the old stomping grounds, and checking in on the people I had worked with for years.

Now, I don’t have the chance anymore, and it actually upset me a little bit on April Fools Day. I wish all my former colleagues the best as they embark on a new part of life. I may have left the Pilot Tribune, but the memories and what I learned never did.


The Madrid Register-News

The Madrid Register-News
124 S State Street,
Madrid, IA 50156
Phone:  515-795-3667

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