West Central Tribune’s ‘picture man’ retires this week

Ron Adams photographed three-sport athlete Tara Rudie, one of Willmar High School’s senior academic leaders, at Hodapp Field on May 15. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

By Anne Polta

apolta@wctrib.com

WILLMAR — His work as one of the West Central Tribune’s news photographers made Ron Adams a familiar sight at local parades, school events and more.

His pictures — and, more recently, videos — appeared almost daily in the newspaper’s print edition and online.

This week Adams, 61, is trading in his camera for retirement and a full-time career as a painter.

His last day is Saturday. A farewell open house will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Willmar Public Library.

Adams said he will miss his role as a window between readers and the community. “When you’re a photographer for a newspaper, you’re the face of the community,” he said.

He will also miss his co-workers in the newsroom.

“All of the reporters are like my best friends because I see them more than I see anybody else,” he said. “That’s going to be the hardest thing about leaving the fold. It is just like a family.”

“It has been my privilege to work with Ron with more than 12 years,” said Editor Kelly Boldan. “He has worked with dedication and consistency. His photography has played a major role in recording history in Willmar and the region for nearly two decades. He has left his mark.”

Adams has been with the Tribune for just a few months short of 20 years.
Art is his first love, going all the way back to high school when he began painting, but he learned early to appreciate the imagery of photography.

From small canvases to large murals, his paintings have always used photographs as the starting point. Wanting to use his own photos instead of someone else’s, he decided to pick up a camera and learn how to use it well. “It’s very important to have good images to work from,” he said.

He started working at the Tribune in 1994 as a part-time photographer. His tall, lanky figure soon became a fixture at local news events, especially on weekends. Schoolchildren referred to him as “the picture man.”

“A lot of people know me on sight,” he said.

Kids and animals were two of his favorite photography subjects. One assignment that stands out in his memory was when a moose wandered into town and he was sent to take pictures. He also remembers being there to capture the moment when a pair of circus elephants at the fairgrounds was taken into Foot Lake for a dip.
“What stands out in my mind is when something really different occurs, like a swimming elephant,” he said.

More recently he branched out into video, earning a statewide third-place award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association last year for his video of a reconciliation ceremony on the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War.
In between photo assignments that often took him on the road to area communities,

Adams is diligent about walking his dachshund, Jimi, and continuing with his painting. His latest one-man show, an exhibit at North American State Bank, is open through Saturday.
Adams said he’s looking forward to concentrating full time on his art and becoming more active in the local arts community, especially now that he will no longer have to juggle studio time with a news photographer’s schedule.

He already has his first major retirement project lined up: a historic mural he has been commissioned to paint at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building. The project is being funded through a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council and will probably take a year to complete.
“This has been a dream of mine for 20 years now,” he said.

Did you know? We’re Social Media Rockstars

Last week, four of us from the Tribune attended the Social Media Rockstars conference at Jackpot Junction in Redwood Falls.

The event featured two keynote speakers, Jason Falls of CafePress and founder of Social Media Explorer, and Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing and author of “Optimize”, as well as six breakout speakers. The whole day was packed with excellent information, new ideas and lots of networking with social-savvy people.

My nametag! Photo credit: Heather Koffler, Twitter

At the Tribune, we work hard on our social media strategy (see earlier posts about this topic here and here). It’s always great to attend conferences like these to see what we’re already doing well and learn some new ideas for taking our strategy to the next level. Like most businesses, we’re trying to balance many different priorities, and we don’t have one person who can focus solely on our social media strategy. So we have to be a little more creative when it comes to time management and choosing where our resources can best be spent.

At times, this can be stressful. You know what I mean: You want to be doing more, but you don’t always have the time, or the knowledge. That’s why conferences like these are so beneficial. I always leave feeling invigorated and excited, with tons of new ideas for strategies and approaches. (Of course, putting them into practice is usually another story!)

 

These were a few of the major takeaways I had from the day:

  • Consider the six things social media can do: enhance brand; protect reputation; build community; enhance customer service; facilitate research/development; and drive sales or leads. Pick one, or all six, but always be thinking strategically. (Jason Falls)
  • “Great content isn’t really great until it gets found, consumed and shared.” (Lee Odden)
  • Social media won’t fix a broken product. Tap into those stories within your organization. (Lee Odden)
  • How to be successful on social media: Provide content, serve your customers, be consistent. (Jason Falls)
  • Google+ is the second largest social network after Facebook. Don’t be too quick to ignore it! (Adam Dince)
  • It takes six to seven “brand touches” for someone to even remember your brand. Make every touch count. (Mykl Roventine)
  • Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, share nonpromotional content. 20% of the time, promote your brands. (Mykl Roventine)
  • On social, your job is to share content that makes your followers say “holy smokes!” Always try to elicit that emotional response. (Jason Falls)

If any of you are interested, I took quite a few more notes during the event and I’d be happy to share them with you. Just email me at awhite@wctrib.com or find me on Twitter. You can also see what other people were saying about the event on Twitter or Facebook.

On a sidenote, the fact that we can have an event like this, with speakers of this caliber, in little ol’ Redwood Falls is a huge testament to this area and the drive and passion we have here. (And a BIG shout out to Sarah Kuglin and her team, who coordinated the entire event and did a phenomenal job!)

I already can’t wait to go again next year!

Do you enjoy going to these types of conferences? Why? What do you think you could be doing differently with your own social media strategy?

Reporter Tom Cherveny receives praise for work on story

Tom Cherveny

West Central Tribune regional reporter Tom Cherveny received a collegial tip o’ the hat from MinnPost writer Brian Lambert on Thursday when Lambert included a mention of Cherveny’s work on his column.

Lambert writes a daily column for MinnPost called “The Glean,” which “offers two daily helpings of the latest news, information and opinion of interest to Minnesotans,” according to the MinnPost website. “Brian Lambert does double duty, offering an early-morning, quick-hit look at some of the latest must-read stories and talkers and then a late-afternoon look at the day’s developments and buzz.”

In Thursday’s Glean column, Lambert wrote about Cherveny’s recent reporting on a double murder that took place in Granite Falls.

Lambert wrote: “Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune has the best story on the arrest of the man charged in that double murder in Granite Falls: ‘Andrew Dikken, arrested Tuesday after eluding authorities for two weeks, entered the home of Kara Monson in Granite Falls sometime after 3 a.m. on Sept. 2 and began shooting her and Chris Panitzke as they were sleeping in a bed, according to the allegations in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday. … The complaint also alleges that within hours of the shooting Monson had received text messages from Dikken, a former boyfriend. Investigators also learned that Dikken had sent a threatening message to one of Monson’s family members that indicated he was threatening Kara’s life, according to the complaint.’”

You can find Cherveny’s full story here.

MinnPost is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan enterprise whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota,” the website states.

This blog post originally appeared on the Forum Communications Company blog. The West Central Tribune is owned by Forum Communications. 

Scoop steals the show on a Tribune tour

This morning, we had around 50 kids here from the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA who took a tour of the Tribune and saw how the newspaper comes together every day.

When they first walked in the building, all of the children were greeted by Scoop, the Tribune mascot. They just loved him!

Scoop stole the show a bit, but that’s okay.

There were hugs and high-fives all around!

Thanks for visiting!

Everyone had a great time this morning on the tour. Thanks for visiting, everyone!

If you or your group would be interested in a tour of the Tribune, please call 320-235-1150.

Tribune sports department wins five Associated Press awards

The West Central Tribune took home five awards at the Minnesota Associated Press Sports Editors awards presentation on Wednesday.

The Tribune sports staff of Tom Larson, Rand Middleton, Jesse Fuchs, Ben Brewster and Dan Wallert took second place in General Excellence and second place in Design & Editing.

Middleton won first place in column writing for a collection of submitted columns. Brewster took second place in Game Stories for a story on a Willmar Stingers playoff game last season, and third place in Spot News for a story on Stingers’ outfielder Forrestt Allday setting the Northwoods League walk record last season.

The Tribune competes in Division I of the MAPSE against other Minnesota newspapers under 20,000 circulation.

Congratulations to the Tribune sports department!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July from the West Central Tribune! We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday weekend.

If you’re looking to celebrate the 4th with a community parade or fireworks display tomorrow, make sure to check out our listing of area 4th of July events.

Here are a few interesting 4th of July numbers, from the United States Census Bureau:

  • 2.5 million: The estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776.
    316.2 million: The nation’s estimated population on this 4th of July.
  • 56: Numbers of signers to the Declaration of Independence.

  • 65.9 million: Number of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2013. If you’re eating pork hot dogs and sausages this Fourth of July, chances are they came from Iowa. The state was home to 20.3 million hogs and pigs. North Carolina (8.9 million) and Minnesota (7.8 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.
  • 59: Places that have “liberty” in the name. Pennsylvania has the most, with 11. 
  • 1: Place that has “patriot” in the name. Patriot, Ind., has a population of 209.

And lastly, as we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, let’s also take a moment to remember what the day is all about, and remember those who have fought for and defended our freedoms since this nation’s independence. We extend a huge thank you to all of our nation’s veterans and current service members and their families.

Happy Independence Day!

How will you be celebrating the holiday weekend? What’s your favorite 4th of July tradition?

Our social media roadmap

Earlier today, I gave a presentation to the Willmar Kiwanis Club about social media and how we’re using it at the Tribune to engage with our readers.

While social media isn’t the only part of my job, it is an important part. Social media is redefining how and where people read their news. Here are a few stats that I use in my presentations on social media:

  • Over 50% of people have learned of breaking news through social media
  • 1/3 of adults under 30 get news on social media every day
  • Among all people using social networks, 36% get news there

That’s a huge potential audience we could be reaching, and one that we know we can’t ignore. That’s why I’m so passionate (and many others at the Tribune are, too) about trying new things on social media to see what works and what doesn’t. After all, you won’t know until you try.

Here’s a copy of a presentation I gave at the Willmar Social Media Breakfast last month (the one I gave at Kiwanis today was a slightly shortened version of this). If you’re interested in learning more about social media and would like me to speak to your business, organization or group, please let me know! I’d be happy to share what I know with you, too.

–Ashley White, Community Content Coordinator

Did you see us on The Weather Channel?

This week, the West Central Tribune was featured on The Weather Channel for Wednesday’s front page, with the headline “Oh, say it ain’t snow.” The front page also took a look back over the miserable never ending long winter we’ve had so far.

The front page was designed by Dan Burdett, and the weather story was developed by Carolyn Lange and Susan Lunneborg. Congrats to everyone involved. We’re famous now! :-)

Who’s ready for spring?!

It’s always a busy day in the newsroom whenever there’s a snowstorm. Like most people in the area, we thought those days were behind us for another year.

Nope.

This morning, I followed local people’s comments about the April snowstorm on Facebook and Twitter, and then compiled them into a Storify that I think pretty accurately represents how all of us are feeling right about now.

Here’s hoping the snow melts quickly and spring comes sooner rather than later. Stay warm!

“Focus” your attention on these stories

Last week, I wrote about how much work we put into our annual Focus section “Rising to the Challenge,” which came out yesterday. I hope all of you had a chance to see it in the paper! If not, it’s now online, and it’s the perfect weekend reading if you’re looking to stay inside and forget that it’s actually April, not January (because someone clearly forgot to tell Minnesota).

I’ve had a chance to read most of the Focus stories now, and I have to tell you, they are really fantastic. When we first started working on the section, I was a little nervous. It seemed like a huge topic to tackle and I had no idea how it would all work out. But once again, I’m blown away by all of our reporters and editors who put this section together. From the economic challenges of farming to homelessness in Kandiyohi County to health care partnerships in the area to the growing diversity in the Willmar School District, we looked at a lot of issues facing this area and what various groups are doing to handle them.

But it doesn’t really matter what I think. We’d love to know what you think of our Focus section this year. Did we represent the different areas of the community well? Is there a story we should have done instead, or should do in the future? Leave a comment here or shoot me an email at awhite@wctrib.com. Your opinion is the one that matters!

PS: I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a HUGE shout out to our features editor Sharon Bomstad, who oversaw the section from the beginning and designed all of the pages. She did a truly awesome job!