During the 149th annual MNA Convention, several special awards were presented.
Bergmans Honored with DSTJ
Julie and Rollin Bergman were presented with MNA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service to journalism Award. They own Page 1 Publications, a group of community newspapers in Northwestern Minnesota, founded in 1991. They are both past presidents of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, and have dedicated much time and talent to the organization. Julie served as president in 1997, and Rollin in 2005 and again in 2013.
Rollin began his career in the newspaper business at the Norman County Index in Ada, MN, at the age of 15 and has been active in the business continuously since that time. He is only the second person in the history of MNA to serve two terms on the MNA Board of Directors. The other one was Harlan Hall in 1881 and 1891. He is also a member of the MNA Half Century Club.
Julie purchased the Northern Light in Baudette when she was 19, becoming the youngest newspaper publisher in the state at the time. She is the current Minnesota State Chair for the National Newspaper Association and a recipient of the Emma McKinney Award, the National Newspaper Association’s highest honor awarded to a woman.
Rollin and Julie combined, have served on the MNA board of directors for nearly a quarter century. They are also both graduates of the Editors & Publishers Community Leadership Program. Over the course of their service to MNA, they have driven more than a hundred thousand miles, from their home in East Grand Forks, to the Twin Cities and back again, for MNA meetings and events.
Many have remarked, “You will never find two people more dedicated to MNA than Rolly and Julie.”
Their service to MNA and the newspaper industry here and across the country is exemplary, their leadership and contributions, lasting.
Blandin Foundation named Friend of Minnesota Newspapers
The Blandin Foundation was presented with the Friend of Minnesota Newspapers Award for its dedication to community leadership and development. Since 2005, Blandin Foundation has been an important part of the Editors & Publishers Community Leadership Program, generously providing financial support for the successful program. Blandin Foundation recognizes the integral role newspapers and editors play in their community as leaders, and this program gives newspaper leaders skills and confidence to be community leaders as well. Through their work across rural Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation is working to ensure a bright future for communities of all sizes.
Dr. Kathleen Annette, president of the Blandin Foundation recognized the crucial role that newspapers play in vibrant communities. She shared stories of Blandin Foundation founder Charles K. Blandin, and his love for newspapers and the industry – as a newspaper editor and owner, he addressed the MNA Convention himself years ago!
MNA and its nonprofit the Minnesota News Media Institute are pleased and honored to share with Blandin Foundation the mission to promote healthy communities and strong community leaders.
Six individuals were inducted into the Half Century Club:
Bruce Fenske began his career as a carrier at the New Ulm Daily Journal when was in high school. Although he also worked as a carrier for the Minneapolis Tribune when he was a student at the University of Minnesota, Bruce spent more than 48 years at the New Ulm Journal. He retired in October, after 35 years as the newspaper’s publisher. During his tenure at the paper he was also a part time reporter and photographer, full time advertising sales person, and the advertising director.
Thomas Hintgen retired from the Fergus Falls Daily Journal in 2012, but he is still busy as a part time reporter for several weekly newspapers in Otter Tail County. Thomas spent most of his newspaper career working in Fergus Falls, but also interned at the Fargo Forum and spent a few years as the media relations manager for Otter Tail Power Company. Tom can’t quite retire full time, and still enjoys covering the county board of commissioners, sheriff news briefings and some general assignments.
Dave Lorenz just celebrated working 50 years as a pressman at the Independent News Herald in Clarissa this summer. Dave has worked at the same job for his 50 years in the printing business. The business has changed ownership over the years. It is now owned by Ray and Marlo Benning and is called the Independent News Herald. Dave was first hired by George Etzell at the Clarissa Independent in Clarissa, MN in July of 1965.
We’re not sure if this has happened before in our history, but also inducted this year are a husband and wife pair – who met at their first publishing job, and have worked side-by-side their entire careers – Junette and Tom Merchant.
Junette Merchant is currently working at the Westbrook Sentinel Tribune as a typesetter, proof reader, and page paginator. She also takes care of general office responsibilities. She began her career at the Baldwin Press in Marshall.
Tom Merchant is the editor of the Westbrook Sentinel Tribune where he also works as a reporter columnist and photographer. His parents, Ralph and Gladys Merchant were owners of the Westbrook Sentinel, and purchased the Walnut Grove Tribune which were later merged to form the Sentinel Tribune. Tom also began his career at the Baldwin Press in Marshall as an apprentice pressman.
The Merchants began working at the Westbrook Sentinel in 1968, and continue to work there to this day. In 1995, New Century Press took over ownership of the paper from Ralph and Gladys Merchant. Ralph was also a member of the Half Century Club.
Al Zdon is currently the editor and manager of the Minnesota Legionnaire. He began his newspaper career as a reporter and columnist in 1965 for the Edison Record, his high school newspaper. Al’s newspaper career continued in the U.S. Navy, 1961-1971, where he was a Photographer’s Mate 2nd class and did photography work for a host of air station and ship newspapers and other periodicals. In 1975, Al moved on to the Hibbing Daily Tribune where he was a reporter, and later the managing editor for 18 years. Since 1996, Al has been editor of the Minnesota Legionnaire.